Around the Kitchen in 3 Questions: Chef Vivian Howard

Chef Howard discusses the influence of her travels on her creative process

Chef Howard sources the ingredients from her Kinston, N.C. restaurant The Chef & the Farmer from local farms.

The Daily Meal caught up with chef Vivian Howard to learn about how her travels have influenced her work. Howard is the chef and owner of Chef & the Farmer in Kinston, N.C., and was a semi-finalist for the 2011 award for Best Chef Southeast from the James Beard Foundation. Her restaurant, which she owns with her husband, is also the subject of a new PBS series about Southern food entitled A Chef’s Life. She is currently leading a crowd-funded campaign to help wrap up season one and get a head start on season two. To see a trailer for the show, as well as learn more and donate to the campaign, check out her Indiegogo page.

The Daily Meal: What has been your most inspirational food experience while traveling?
Vivian Howard: I studied abroad in Buenos Aires during college, and was fascinated by how much their cultural identity relied on the country's cuisine. I became obsessed with empanadas, dulce de leche, and beef. And when I came home, my dream was to open an empanada joint called Viviana's Empanadas.

TDM: What’s your favorite kitchen souvenir from your travels?
This is not really a tangible souvenir, but my husband and I married ourselves outside of Shanghai. While we were there, I took a short dumpling-making class and had a very difficult time shaping the dumplings. The language barrier was thick but I could sense the amusement of the Chinese chefs. My souvenir from that experience was a good dose of humility.


TDM: If you could eat your way through one country, which one would it be and why?
VH: Maybe it's cliché, but I would love to eat my way through France. I am really into cheese and like to daydream about renting a car and traveling to little villages, drinking wine and eating creamy, funky small-batch cheeses.