A Chef’s Life on PBS
The Mast Farm Inn is honored to be an Official Sponsor of "A Chef’s Life" on PBS, currently the top rated food series on PBS • "Much more dynamic than a typical cooking show, A Chef’s Life is a character-driven documentary and cooking series, broadcasting nationally on PBS stations."
A Chef’s Life plunges audiences into the kitchen of a high-end restaurant located in the low country of eastern North Carolina. It follows the trials and travails of Chef Vivian Howard and her husband, Ben Knight, and their farm-to-table restaurant, Chef & the Farmer, exploring both traditional and modern applications of quintessential Southern ingredients. Vivian’s skill in the kitchen is an equal match for her charismatic personality, radiating behind crystal grey eyes."
"Much more dynamic than a typical cooking show, A Chef’s Life is a character-driven documentary and cooking series, broadcasting nationally on PBS stations as of September 2013."
A little history… Vivian was one of the opening staff members with Jean-Georges at Spice Market and simultaneously opened her own gourmet delivery service Vim’s Kitchen, serving the likes of Liv Tyler, Helena Christiansen and the fusionists of Gucci. Trendsetter, Underground Eats, called her their all-time favorite chef.
"With such great momentum came investment offers."
But an offer from Vivian’s father, a big-time hog farmer, called out the loudest. He offered to help her open her own restaurant South of Houston Street (Shoo) – way south! The Deep South to be exact: Kinston, North Carolina, an area known for its history in tobacco cultivation and BBQ joints. Vivian and her husband Ben (a Chicago-raised professional artist) found the offer too good to resist and packed up their Manhattan life for a new opportunity. The girl who said she’d never go back was heading home.
"She soon realized the cooking techniques she learned in NYC could be applied to her “grandmother’s ingredients,” the bounty grown and raised by local farmers. In true farm-to-table fashion, audiences follow Vivian into the fields as she travels from cornfields to strawberry patches to hog farms to hunt down the ingredients that drive her seasonal menus. Six years in, Vivian and her restaurant have won numerous accolades, including a James Beard nomination."
As the series opens, Vivian and her husband Ben are juggling the restaurant with raising twins, and a fire destroys the restaurant’s kitchen. What happens next is a true testament to what local cooking and eating really mean.
"A Chef’s Life is produced by Markay Media in association with South Carolina ETV. The series is directed and produced by Cynthia Hill with Rex Miller as director of photography and co-producer. Tom Vickers is editor. Amy Shumaker is executive-in-charge for SCETV. The series is a project of the Southern Documentary Fund. The show’s theme song is written and performed by North Carolina’s own Avett Brothers."
"A Chef’s Life is a new half-hour character-driven documentary and cooking series that takes viewers inside the life of Chef Vivian Howard, who, with her husband Ben Knight, left the big city to open a fine dining restaurant in small-town Eastern North Carolina. Each episode follows Vivian out of the kitchen and into cornfields, strawberry patches and hog farms as she hunts down the ingredients that inspire her seasonal menus. Using a chef’s modern sensibilities, Vivian explores Southern cuisine, past and present — one ingredient at a time. A celebration of true farm to table food, the 13-week series combines the action and drama of a high-pressure business with the joys and stresses of family life." ~ PBS Food
Featuring • Vivian Howard & Ben Knight
Also Featuring • Staff of Chef & the Farmer, The Howard Family
Producer-Director • Cynthia Hill
Director of Photography-Co-producer • Rex Miller
Editor • Tom Vickers
Executive in Charge for SCETV • Amy Shumaker
Executive Producer • Derek Britt
Co-Producer • Malinda Maynor Lowery
Original Score • Chuck Johnson, Composer & Musician
Second Camera • Josh Woll & Blaire Johnson
Associate Producer • Un Kyong Ho, Dawn Dreyer, Jenn Cromling
Design & Graphics • Margaret McNealy, McNealy Design
Public TV Consultant • Selena Lauterer, Artemis Independent
Assistant Producer • Jason Hill
Social Media Coordinator • Hayley Teater
Collage Artist • Curtis Gaston
Makeup • Tonya Adams & Jamie Warzel
Web Design & Development • Smashing Boxes
Additional Camera • Jeremy Lange, DL Anderson, Steve Milligan
Production Assistants • Eli Van Noppen, Will Gehman, Sarah Law, Mel Blankenship
Post Production Services • Trailblazer Studios
Post Supervisor • Leah Welsh
Color Correction • Alan Maynard
Audio Post • Michel Marrano & David Hill
Post Production Technician • Kevin Shattuck
Legal • Karen Shatzkin
Accounting • Sharon Anderson
Fiscal Sponsor • The Southern Documentary Fund
Theme • "Will You Return", Written and Performed by The Avett Brothers on Ramseur Records
Additional Music • Provided By Shark Quest, Courtesy of Merge Records, Provided by Bank Robber Music
Photographs • Rex Miller
"Like many people, Vivian Howard moved to New York City to pursue some big dreams. After a stint in advertising, she attended culinary school, got jobs at respected restaurants such as Wylie Dufresne’s WD~50 and Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Spice Market, and found success in a catering business. But just as that business was poised to grow, Howard did the unexpected: She moved back to her regional home of Eastern North Carolina with her husband Ben Knight to open a restaurant." • Eater, "Chef Vivian Howard on Southern Food and Her PBS Show"
"It’s an ongoing process, but the success of Chef & the Farmer seems to have opened people’s eyes – in some cases local people’s own eyes – to what eastern North Carolina has always had the ability to offer, such as farm tours, tours of nearby Civil War battlefields, hiking, and kayaking along the river. Traffic is driven in part by the popularity of A Chef’s Life, the PBS television series that documents Howard and Knight’s professional and personal journeys." • Forbes Magazine, "Lean Start-Up Lessons From The Chef & The Farmer"
"Vivian Howard knows that most people who take the highway through her part of eastern North Carolina are glad to wind up somewhere else. The sight of shuttered businesses, rusting trailers and cars on blocks isn’t appetizing." ~ IndyWeek, "Kinston restaurateur Vivian Howard and A Chef’s Life, a new PBS show"
"A Chef’s Life, which premieres on PBS stations across the country this week, is not your typical cooking show. It follows Howard as she and her husband juggle running their restaurant, building a home, and raising two children. It also follows her into fields, dairies, and home kitchens across eastern North Carolina. Over the course of thirteen episodes, viewers get a look at making muscadine wine, churning buttermilk, canning tomatoes—even, in one episode, how the chef translates a classic gas-station snack into an attention-grabbing main course. A reality show that’s actually, um, real, it might be just the thing that Southern food lovers have been waiting for." • Garden & Gun, A Southern Chef’s Small-Screen Debut
"Working in famous New York City restaurants, Vivian Howard swore she’d never move back to her home state of North Carolina. Then, in 2005, when she decided to open her restaurant, her family offered financial help with a catch: She had to open the restaurant near her home town. "I was against it," she remembers. But Howard and her husband Ben Knight wound up moving to the 20,000-population city of Kinston, N.C., and opened an upscale restaurant. In this conversation with host Dick Gordon, Howard says she surprised herself by how much she’d enjoyed dressing up Southern staples like okra, corn, bacon and oysters in her restaurant Chef and the Farmer." • WUNC 91.5 North Carolina Public Radio, "How Eastern NC Chef Vivian Howard Became Star Of TV Series A Chef’s Life"
"I like this show. Many television shows centered around food, cooking and chefs make the world of restaurants look glamorous. Not “A Chef’s Life.” It’s a realistic look at the hard work and sacrifices that need to be made in order to run a restaurant that serves seasonal, quality dishes. In the opening few minutes of episode one, Chef Vivian says that in theory, farm-to-fork is “a beautiful thing.” In reality, however, “it can be really challenging.” Changing the menu each week or even each day based on what is available from the local farmers is quite a bit of work. Her restaurant works with farmers within 30 miles to provide the produce and proteins they serve." • Mother Nature Network, "PBS’ A Chef’s Life takes a realistic look at farm-to-fork"
"Chef Vivian Howard’s life makes for good television. Howard, 35, left eastern North Carolina for New York City, became a chef and wanted to open her own restaurant. Her father, a successful hog farmer, offered to help her financially but there was a catch: She had to open her restaurant in Kinston." • News & Observer, "Chef Vivian Howard stars in ‘A Chef’s Life’ on UNC-TV"
"If you are a chef obsessed, "Masterchef Juniors" loving aspiring home cook like me, then you must have been watching Chef Vivian Howard on "A Chef’s Life" this fall. Chef Vivian is a breath of fresh air in an over saturated food TV market, especially for Southern fans who were looking for a strong southern female chef. "A Chef’s Life" follows Chef Vivian and husband Ben Knight in their restaurant Chef & The Farmer and out of their restaurant, into their community that is rich with food tradition." • Examiner, "A Q&A with Chef Vivian Howard, Star of A Chef’s Life on PBS"
"Cynthia Hill is currently in post production on a brand new food centered TV series, A Chef’s Life. The series follows Chef Vivian Howard as she relaunches Chef & the Farmer, a gourmet, locavore restaurant near her hometown in rural Eastern North Carolina. The show is a unique hybrid – part cooking show, part reality show, part travel show, with a heavy dose of documentary sensibility woven throughout. Each episode highlights one quintessentially Southern ingredient, tracing its culinary roots, but also its journey from nearby farms into Vivian’s restaurant kitchen. We spoke to Cynthia about how she got involved with this project, and how working on a TV series compares to her previous, full length documentary film work." • Southern Documentary Fund, "Cynthia Hill is currently in post production on a brand new food centered TV series"
"And so The Chef & the Farmer, located in Kinston, North Carolina, was born. Six years in, Vivian and her restaurant have won numerous accolades, including her selection as a James Beard semi-finalist, but the challenges continue. As the series opens, Vivian and Ben are juggling the restaurant, raising twins and anxiously building their own home — right next door to her parents. Much more dynamic and personal than a typical cooking show, A CHEF’S LIFE celebrates modern Southern cuisine, seasonality, farmers, and food artisans — all through the lens of a working restaurant." • South Carolina ETV, "NEW PBS SERIES, A CHEF’S LIFE"
"What follows is a representation of rural people and place that is rarely seen on television. The people are creative, intelligent and interesting. The family drama is relatable. And humorous moments aren’t at the expense of those on screen. Since the premier in September, Knight says they’ve received overwhelmingly positive feedback. Viewers have told him the series is showing a humanity in the rural experience that most people don’t get." • The Daily Yonder, "Chef’s Life Cooks Up a Tastier Rural Reality"
"You heard it here first: A Chef’s Life, a new kind of cooking show, will be premiering on PBS stations in September. The show features one of our favorite rising star Southern chefs, Vivian Howard. You’ll get a glimpse into the daily adventures that come with running a fine-dining restaurant, raising her twins, and living next door to her parents in Kinston, a small town in eastern North Carolina." • Southern Living, "TV Show To Watch: A Chef’s Life"
"Part cooking series, part documentary, the half-hour episodes follow Vivian out of kitchen and into the cornfields, berry patches and local farms as she hunts down the ingredients for her seasonal menus at Chef & The Farmer. Like a lot of PBS fare, the show is both educational and relaxing to watch. You can’t help but root for Vivian and Ben, parents to young twins and business owners struggling to keep their restaurant afloat in a rural area not accustomed to paying $2 for a glass of tea." • Chicago Sun-Times, "Former Chicago artist Ben Knight and wife star in new PBS cooking series, A Chef’s Life"
"The name of Howard’s restaurant refers to the field-fresh ingredients dominating the kitchen. But it could just as easily nod to Howard herself, who grew up on a farm in nearby Deep Run. In this sweet-and-salty hybrid, she takes inspiration from both the syrupy yams of her childhood and the smash-fried plantains that she discovered as a chef in New York City." • Garden & Gun, "Candied Sweet Potatoes with Pecan Bacon Syrup"
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The Mast Farm Inn is honored to be an Official Sponsor of "A Chef’s Life" on PBS, currently the top rated food series on PBS. The Mast Farm Inn is an award-winning historic country inn & restaurant in the Valle Crucis Historical District of North Carolina, which has been welcoming guests since the 1800s. The Mast Farm Inn is a Historic Hotels of America hotel, a Select Registry Inn, and is on The National Register of Historic Places.