It’s been a year or so since my friend Joni introduced me to the PBS show, A Chef’s Life. She thought I might like the program, and she was right.
This documentary-style show chronicles the life of Chef Vivian Howard as she raises her family with her husband Ben Knight, operates a restaurant (Chef & the Farmer) , and writes a cookbook – all from her home in Kinston, North Carolina. On each weekly episode, Vivian highlights a specific ingredient – cabbage, butter beans, turnips, honey, corn, cucumbers and so on. She champions the underdogs of the vegetable world, elevating lowly okra to its rightful place atop the food pyramid. In addition to educating viewers about food and farmers, there are stories of the trials and joys of running a restaurant, balancing work and family, and letting go of fear and insecurity to make dreams come true. Vivian’s passion for food and the farmers who feed us carry the show.
Dave and I drove to Richmond to meet Chef Vivian at the Fire, Flour & Fork Event. Our tickets included the purchase of her just-released cookbook, Deep Run Roots, and a sampling of her recipes served from her book tour food truck. Vivian was as just as down-to-earth as we expected – greeting each visitor with grace and patience. After she signed our cookbook, we sat outside the Libbie Mill Library and enjoyed a savory stew of catfish, shrimp, bacon, potatoes, onion and hard boiled eggs followed by a sweet treat, a chewy pecan bar with freshly whipped cream.
It's a true pleasure to see the beauty that comes when a person takes a leap to do the work they were meant to do. Vivian inspires me to let my light shine, too.
We can’t wait to pore over the recipes in Deep Run Roots. I might even cook a few.