Watch A Chef's Life

A Chef's Life is a reality television show that airs on PBS and follows the life and career of Chef Vivian Howard in her high-end restaurant in eastern North Carolina. The plot is set in the south as she runs the restaurant, Chef & the Farmer, with her husband, Ben, while also raising a set of newborn twins. The restaurant easily stands out among the other family-owned businesses in the small area since it first opened.

The television show offers a close look at the milestones and challenges that the couple endure together, still struggling to work together after six years since opening the restaurant.

The show also provides a first-hand look of Chef Howard visiting her neighbors and learning how to make homemade cuisine from old fashioned recipes that she begins to add to her menu. Everything from fried green tomatoes to bacon mayonnaise is made for classic Southern food items that tell a story in each episode.

As the show evolves, the series covers a fire that destroys Chef Howard's restaurant as the couple learn to rebuild their business from the ground up and attempt to survive the challenges that come along.

PBS
5 Seasons, 61 Episodes
September 10, 2013
Documentary & Biography, Food
7.8/10
Cast: Vivian Howard, Ben Knight
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A Chef's Life Full Episode Guide

  • Vivian plans a respite from the road during the holidays, but finds herself equally busy at home. She volunteers at a soup kitchen and does one last book signing in Kinston before the holidays. Vivian also visits Sunburst Trout Farms and prepares a Feast of the Seven Fishes dinner at the restaurant where trout — from roe to filet — shines.

  • On a short hiatus from the book tour, Vivian takes the twins to pick persimmons off Mrs. Betty's tree and learns about the different varieties of the fruit. She then takes that knowledge to Atlanta where an event called “Hired Guns” pits chefs and their dishes against each other. Back in Kinston, Vivian gets a pudding lesson from chef Bill Smith of Crook's Corner in Chapel Hill.

  • What begins as a dinner at Maker's Mark in Vivian's honor ends as an American history lesson. A tour of Maker's Mark and Jefferson's distilleries illuminates the differences between whiskey, scotch, and bourbon for Vivian who also learns how Frank and Jesse James fit into Kentucky's boozy biography.

  • Vivian heads to NYC where her book launch means a full itinerary. A celebration dinner at Bon Appétit Kitchen follows her appearance on the Rachael Ray Show where Vivian finds that a shot of bourbon goes a long way. Back at the shop, Ben and crew ready the food truck for its first stop in Nashville. While there, a lack of rain leads Vivian on a challenging hunt for broccoli.

  • Vivian, her parents, and Flo pluck pears from a tree that's been in the family for 100 years. The arrival of Vivian's cookbook sparks a well of emotions as the reality of wheeling a food truck around the country sets in. In order to get a better handle on the truck, Vivian and her crew do a practice run at the farmer's market and serve up Tom Thumb with pear relish -- a dish that pleases most but leaves a bad taste in Ms. Lillie's mouth.

  • Vivian preps peppers for a trip to Lambstock, a party where chefs, food, and music converge. Even with Warren behind the wheel, the road provides unexpected woes. Before hitting the highway, Holley's grandmother offers a lesson in stuffing peppers and delegating authority.

  • With summer heat high and rain levels low, Vivian struggles to scrounge up enough green beans to add to the menu at Chef the Farmer. Her kitchen capers continue as she stumbles to find her rhythm with a new chef firmly in place. Mrs. Tessie Mae offers levity by giving Vivian a golf cart tour of her garden, an intro to pickled pork, and a lesson in snapping pole beans.

  • Vivian's plate is full of everything - except tomatoes. As Chef the Farmer turns 10 years old, Vivian embarks on a fruitless search for the season's first ripe tomatoes to serve at the restaurant's birthday party. For the celebration that brings back familiar faces and dishes, she concocts a menu that represents a decade of professional growth, and then seeks the wisdom of Mrs. Mary and Ms. Lillie to prepare an old school tomato dish that 'kills hungry.'

  • Mayo -- The Mother Sauce

  • Vivian is honored at a New York dinner party; and brings with her quintessential Carolina cuisine, including pig tails, ham hocks and fatback. She also visits her publisher, who shares an ambitious itinerary with her.

  • Flo and Theo's pre-school class comes to the restaurant, but delayed service makes everyone anxious. In other events, Vivian looks to an old pal for help when a sunchoke dish doesn't turn out.

  • Vivian finds out about farm-raised catfish; and a staff member's final day at the restaurant arrives.

  • Vivian shows rabbit processing during a trip to the Carolina Meat Conference; and is saddened at the possibility of losing a cherished staff worker at the restaurant.

  • Vivian surveys Portland, Ore., before readying the BBQ cabbage for Feast Portland.

  • Vivian gets ready for her first journey to Feast Portland in Oregon; and Sam Jones and Miss Lillie exchange old-school cabbage recipes that impress what Vivian fixes for the festival.

  • As a visit from her editor accelerates book preparations, Vivian reckons with handing over the restaurant reins to John and Justise. A tutorial in "œbeatin"™ peas" delivered by a 92 year-old expert is an entertaining and therapeutic history lesson.

  • After a summer away, Vivian returns to the restaurant and a staff of new faces. She also asks a favor of an avid home chef: test her cookbook recipes.

  • Spring onion season is in high gear. Vivian takes a break from writing her first cookbook to prepare a benefit dinner at a training ground for beginning farmers. Even though The Avett Brothers make an appearance, the underdog onion steals the show, playing both star and support.

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