Chef-Owner, Chef & the Farmer, and Host, PBS's "A Chef's Life," Kinston, NC
Culinary Arts, 2003
A former advertising executive, Vivian left the glamorous world of marketing to gain hands-on experience in the restaurant business. Her next step led her to enrollment in ICE’s culinary arts program, “so that [she] could get an internship in the city’s top kitchens.”
Soon Vivian found herself in those very kitchens, completing her externship at Wylie Dufresne’s wd~50. From there she trained at Jean Georges’ Spice Market, and launched a successful catering business.
When her parents learned that Vivian was planning to open a New York storefront, they proposed to fully fund the opening of her restaurant—but only if she returned to do so in her hometown in eastern North Carolina. That restaurant, Chef & the Farmer, sources over 70% of the restaurant’s inventory from within 60 miles.
As Vivian got to know her local farmers, her interest in the stories behind food blossomed, and she recruited a childhood friend and documentary director, Cynthia Hill, to help investigate the region’s culinary heritage. The now-acclaimed PBS show A Chef’s Life was born, mostly recently garnering both a Peabody and a James Beard Award and securing Chef & The Farmer as one of the nation’s top “destination restaurants.”
Describing her culinary voice, chef Vivian says, “I believe in cooking food that has a story behind it and integrity to it—food with a very specific sense of place and that people want to eat.”
Click here to read an exclusive interview with Vivian Howard.