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?
VH: 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.