Chef Vivian Howard, of Chef and The Farmer restaurant in Kinston, North Carolina, will be bringing her food truck to the studios of S.C. ETV Wednesday as part of a promotional tour of her first cookbook “Deep Run Roots.”
Howard’s life in a small-town eastern North Carolina town is the focus of a S.C. ETV’s documentary/cooking series, “A Chef’s Life.” “Deep Run Roots,” at more than 550 pages, is full of Howard’s stories of friends and family food traditions in addition to the recipes, and each chapter has a list of “Wisdoms,” common sense rules about the ingredients covered in the book’s pages.
While the dinner portion of Wednesday’s Columbia event is sold out, fans can still stop by with their copies of “Deep Run Roots” and have Howard sign them.
We sat down with her recently to talk about the new book, her “Aha!” moment and whether “A Chef’s Life” is coming back for a fifth season.
How does it feel to hear that “Deep Run Roots” has been appearing on “must have” book lists?
Howard: I’m relieved. I put a lot of time and energy and hope into writing it. It took three years total. I delivered the manuscript last year and spent this past year editing and doing promotion.
This is the second week of a nine-week tour promoting the book, and you are doing it from a customized food truck. How is that going?
Howard: Last week didn’t go so well. There was a missed flight from New York to Memphis, my team drove the truck from North Carolina to Memphis (the first stop on the tour), filming for a new season of “A Chef’s Life” and a hurricane (Matthew) complicating the process. It makes for good TV, but it’s bad when I need to be available for the team. But we’ve hit a reboot and hopefully things will run smoothly.
The wisdom and stories in each section talk about family traditions of preparing food. Do you think some of these traditions can or will be brought back?
Howard: I don’t pretend that hog killings will happen ... and that was not my intention when I wrote it. But some traditions – the recipes like chicken and rice or putting up corn or tomatoes – the more accessible traditions can be brought back. It’s about spending time as a family and working toward a common goal.
There’s a story in the book about your father and 500 pounds of blueberries, and how you had to figure out something to do with all those berries. Would you say that was your “Aha!” moment, when you found your culinary voice?
Howard: Definitely an “Aha!” moment – taking (an ingredient) incredibly specific to eastern North Carolina and taking it 30-40 degrees in a different direction, using skills that I learned professionally. It was “Oh, this is what I should do” (with her cooking). The results got tremendous response from our customers.
You said there was filming, so does that mean there is a fifth season of “A Chef’s Life?”
Howard: Yes, we had more ingredients, more events and more stories to tell.
If your current tour proves to be popular, will you add more dates to the tour?
Howard: We’ll see how it goes. We’ll take a break after the first of the year and may come back out on the road.
Vivian Howard’s ‘Deep Run Roots’ tour
Dinner at her Columbia stop is sold out, but bring copies of her book and she will autograph them; 5 p.m. Wednesday, S.C. ETV, 1041 George Rogers Blvd.
Other upcoming tour stops include Charleston, Oct. 18; Savannah, Oct. 27; and Charlotte, Nov. 6.
Watch ‘A Chef’s Life’
Season 4 episodes air at 9 p.m. Thursdays on Time Warner Cable channel 11.