Dear Viewers and Listeners:
It’s rare to find a program that consistently touches hearts and palates. A Chef’s Life has done just that. This SCETV Presents series, distributed by PBS, returns for an exciting Season Two this month. Hosted by Vivian Howard, A Chef’s Life has found the secret ingredient to delight and at the same time educate audiences.
A recent visit to Kinston, North Carolina, gave us a little insight into this phenomenon. Kinston is home to Vivian and her husband Ben Knight’s restaurants—Chef & the Farmer and the Boiler Room. Our visit, led by Commission Chairman Dr. Brent Nelsen, included Brent’s wife Lori Nelsen, Commissioner Nicole Holland, and ETV Executive Producer Amy Shumaker. We learned more about this Southern community with its fascinating heritage.
We stayed at the home of Warren and Jane Brothers, who have turned their picturesque 19th-century farmhouse into a bed and breakfast. We explored Warren’s farm, one of the areas Vivian draws on, for fresh produce and pork. Incidentally, if you watched episode one, it is true that Warren is mostly barefooted as he practices his farming wizardry!
We also explored Kinston, a town that fell into decline as cotton mills and textiles began disappearing from the landscape. But Kinston is now seeing some real growth. This growth was largely sparked by the strength of Vivian and Ben’s original investment with Chef & the Farmer. Local residents told stories of people driving south on I-95 who frequently take a detour to Kinston (which is in a very rural area) to sample some of Vivian’s delightful menu items. We talked to servers and a wine sommelier, who credit Vivian and Ben for giving them a chance and training them in culinary skills they never knew they could develop. And we reconnected with Cynthia Hill, the talented producer who, along with her husband, Rex Miller, director of photography, bring to life this special story. The imagery they capture showcases the region’s beauty and the essence of southern foodways and culture.
Season Two promises to take us on another culinary journey extraordinaire—chronicling food, family and friends. We hope you’ll join us then.