Chef Vivian Howard of Chef & The Farmer - Biography

Kinston, NC

September 2017

Born in Deep Run, North Carolina, to tobacco and hog farming parents, Vivian Howard learned early on to appreciate the ebb and flow of eating with the seasons. After college, she moved to New York for a desk job, but found the city’s restaurant scene more intriguing.

Howard worked her way up, learning from the city’s most influential chefs: Wylie Dufresne and Sam Mason at wd~50 and the Jean-Georges crew with the opening of Spice Market. In 2005, Howard and husband Ben Knight left New York to open a restaurant in Kinston, North Carolina. Chef & the Farmer serves seasonal, regional cuisine with a fine-dining back bone, a modern wink, and a side of Southern decadence. Rooted in traditional recipes and strong relationships with farmers, much of the restaurant’s foodstuffs are sourced within 60 miles, invigorating the town and uplifting Howard’s corner of Carolina. 

In 2013, Howard won a StarChefs Rising Stars Award for her work. The same year, “A Chef’s Life” debuted on PBS, documenting the experiences and customs of the people in the coastal plains of eastern Carolina through their interactions with Howard and the restaurant. Her venture has attracted other businesses to the area, and Howard opened a second spot, Boiler Room. 

Now in its fifth season, “A Chef’s Life” is the only television series to win a Peabody, Emmy, and James Beard Award. In 2016, Howard published, Deep Run Roots. The New York Times bestseller won the IACP award for “Cookbook of the Year.”