What do you get when you combine the bounty of Eastern NC farmers and a chef who is passionate about the local foods she grew up on? You get Chef and the Farmer. This is farm-to-fork cuisine on a whole new level. It is inventive and sincere, which is exactly what I would say about its chef and owner, Vivian Howard. She is humble and down-to-earth. She greeted my husband and me with a smile and visited with us at our table for far longer than I ever expected.
As we discussed the food and the farmers in NC, it struck me that I was talking with someone who is literally using her passion to ignite the fire of farm-to-table eating all the way to the NC coast. Western NC has enjoyed this movement playing out in its restaurants for quite some time now. The Triangle is a burgeoning mecca for great food prepared with local ingredients, too. Eastern NC, or as the locals call it, “Down East,” is a relative newcomer to this movement, but Chef Vivian is ensuring that it grows. She is even sharing her passion for cooking using local NC ingredients with the nation. The PBS show, “A Chef’s Life,” takes an honest look at what running a farm-to-fork restaurant in quaint Kinston, NC really looks like.
The meal my husband and I enjoyed at Chef and the Farmer was perfect from start to finish. The staff was as warm and generous as Chef Vivian, which leads me to believe they take their mission very seriously. They, too, are passionate about sharing an amazing dining experience with their guests. The food was creative and decadent. It was–well, you’ll see in the photos posted below—a feast for the eyes and the palate.
I hope you will take the opportunity to visit Chef and the Farmer. It will be the best foodie decision you have ever made!
Pork Belly & Apple Pizza, caramelized onion, apple, pork belly, thyme
Pimp My Grits, shrimp and grits
Candied Yams & Watercress, pecans, bacon, sorghum
Cornmeal Crusted Flounder, cauliflower creamed farro, Tabasco/honey glazed turnips, crispy chicken skin
Sage Brined Bone-In Pork Chop, Italian sausage & butternut squash casserole, candied bell pepper
Cranberry, Eggnog & Orange Parfait, spiced chantilly