PBS's A Chef's Life

Photo from www.achefslifeseries.com

I don’t normally watch cooking shows. Mostly because they make me hungry. But a Twitter friend turned me on to A Chef’s Life on PBS.

I don’t know Vivian Howard, the chef/star of the show. But I feel like I do. She grew up in Eastern North Carolina and has is in possession of an accent you want to just fall into and never leave. It warms my heart. She sounds exactly precisely like the kids who attended Camp Morehead with me. And that is a good, good thing. The Eastern NC accent is a particular accent that if you haven’t had the pleasure of drinking in deeply, you are truly missing out.

Vivian also escaped to New York City for a number of years and only returned home when her parents offered to help her and her (Yankee) husband start a restaurant. I didn’t know Vivian when she lived here, but I could have. And we would be friends. Right?

Before I get too creepy/stalkery about the whole thing, let me tell you the other three things that make the show for me.

First, I love that each ep features a particular ingredient. Now, they may mostly be a little stereotypically “Southern” but I don’t care. Let’s talk real strawberries, heirloom tomatoes, pigs, grits, and muscadine grapes. I’m just fine with that. Almost licked the TV screen.

Second, I love the farmers and older people who help educate her on how to prepare different ingredients. More of that North Carolina accent, please. And the salt-of-the-earthiness. I want to give out hugs.

Finally, there’s a dose of reality in this “reality” show. By that, we discover the first episode that their restaurant burns down and they have to rebuild. Their reaction feels real. And in each episode Vivian and her husband, Ben, well, they kinda bicker a little bit. No one throws any wine glasses, nor do they pretend a Martha’ Stewart level of having-it-all-together facade. Just some back and forth like normal humans do. Refreshing.

I also like the difference between how Vivian appears when she narrates and teaches in the “educational” portions of the show when she is wearing her makeup (she looks looks great) contrasted with the “documentary” portion when she is in chef’s mode (kinda, well, frumpy). Not only does this make me feel okay about writing this post in m’sweatpants, but also reminds me that my mother was probably right about the difference “puttin’ on your face” makes after a certain age. Sigh.

All that is to say, my future best friend Vivian didn’t pay me a dime to talk up her PBS show, but I’m doing it anyway, because I’m really enjoying it. Check it out online here.

(originally posted on Just a Pinch of South, 2013)