A Chef's Life

Watch A Chef's Life

  • TV-G
  • 2013
  • 5 Seasons
  • 8.0  (243)

A Chef's Life is a multi-award-winning docuseries from PBS that chronicles the life and work of chef Vivian Howard at her restaurant, Chef and the Farmer, located in the small town of Kinston in eastern North Carolina. The show premiered in 2013 and concluded in 2018, spanning five seasons and a total of 53 episodes.

At the heart of the show is Vivian Howard, a classically trained chef who returned to her roots in eastern North Carolina to open her own restaurant. Along with her husband and business partner, Ben Knight, she built Chef and the Farmer from the ground up, sourcing local ingredients and reimagining Southern cuisine for a new generation of eaters. Over the course of the series, we see Vivian balance the demands of running a successful restaurant with the joys and challenges of raising a young family.

One of the most distinctive aspects of A Chef's Life is its immersive approach to storytelling. Each episode focuses on a single ingredient, dish, or concept and explores it in depth, weaving together history, culture, and personal narrative. For example, one episode might center on the humble sweet potato and its role in southern cuisine, while another delves into the art of pickling or the challenges of sourcing sustainable seafood.

Throughout the series, we meet a cast of characters who form the fabric of Vivian's life and work. These include her mother, Scarlett, who teaches her daughter traditional Southern cooking techniques and shares family stories from the region's past. There's also Vivian's pastry chef, the irrepressible Flo, who whips up decadent desserts and provides comic relief in the kitchen. And then there are the farmers, fishermen, and other producers who supply Chef and the Farmer with the fresh, seasonal ingredients that form the backbone of Vivian's cooking.

Another key aspect of A Chef's Life is its commitment to showcasing the complexities and contradictions of Southern identity. Vivian and her team challenge the stereotypes that often surround Southern food, exploring the ways in which it has been shaped by migration, trade, and cultural exchange. They also tackle difficult subjects such as race, class, and gender, highlighting the struggles and inequalities that persist in many Southern communities.

Despite these weighty themes, A Chef's Life is ultimately a celebration of food, family, and community. Vivian and her team approach cooking with a sense of joy and curiosity, constantly experimenting with new flavors and techniques. They value the connections that food creates between people, whether it's a family coming together for a meal or a community rallying around a shared cause. And they see food as a way to pay tribute to the traditions and stories that have shaped Southern culture over generations.

Overall, A Chef's Life is a rich and engaging series that offers a fresh perspective on Southern food and culture. Whether you're a seasoned foodie or simply curious about the people and places that make up this vibrant region of the United States, there's something here for everyone. Vivian Howard and her team have crafted a show that is both informative and entertaining, leaving viewers hungry for more.

A Chef's Life is a series that is currently running and has 5 seasons (61 episodes). The series first aired on September 10, 2013.

A Chef's Life
Filter by Source

King Cornbread
10. King Cornbread
December 9, 2017
“Pig and a puppy'” merges corn bread with another Southern staple; corn bread cook-off.
Liver Lover
9. Liver Lover
December 2, 2017
Vivian visits one of her favorite farmers and an eastern North Carolina restaurant known for its fried livers. She learns that not all livers are created equal, but are equally good for you. Back at home, Mrs. Scarlett prepares a humble, old-school dish of beef liver and onions, which inspires Vivian to introduce a fancy, controversial liver dish to the restaurant's menu.
Chasing Trout
8. Chasing Trout
November 21, 2017
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.
Persimmon Style
7. Persimmon Style
November 14, 2017
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.
Bourbon Country
6. Bourbon Country
November 7, 2017
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.
WANTED: Broccoli
5. WANTED: Broccoli
October 31, 2017
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.
A Food Truck and a Pear Tree
4. A Food Truck and a Pear Tree
October 24, 2017
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.
Prolific Peppers
3. Prolific Peppers
October 17, 2017
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.
Shake, Rattle and Pole (Beans)
2. Shake, Rattle and Pole (Beans)
October 10, 2017
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.
1. Two-Mato
October 3, 2017
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.'
Where to Watch A Chef's Life
A Chef's Life is available for streaming on the PBS website, both individual episodes and full seasons. You can also watch A Chef's Life on demand at Amazon Prime, Amazon, Google Play, Apple TV and PBS.
  • Premiere Date
    September 10, 2013
  • IMDB Rating
    8.0  (243)