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Charleston » A Candid Dialog On Food…With Chef and Author Vivian Howard

A Candid Dialog On Food…With Chef and Author Vivian Howard

A group of people holding wine glasses, with Vivian Howard and Garden

BEST BIRTHDAY EVER – I met my favorite chef and television personality, Vivian Howard of PBS A Chef’s Life. When I learned Vivian was participating in Garden & Gun Magazine’s Made In The South Weekend, I jumped at my opportunity to attend and to meet her, as well as meet the many other celebs of the Made In The South Awards.

Made In The South Weekend is not to be missed if you live within a 3 state radius of this event. Seriously – this is as southern high-end ‘with a sprinkle of grit for good measure’ as it gets. The show features the Southern artisan winners across six categories of regional design and style available today.

Food, drink, style, home, crafts, and outdoors. Party crasher that I am, I burst onto the scene at 8:30am with my camera only to find a full Bloody Mary and Mimosa bar heavily underway, as well as some quintessentially southern nibbles to keep my steady camera arm level – pimento cheese, ham biscuits, sweet and garlic pickles, cheese straws, tea sandwiches – now, there’s breakfast.

Upon finding my way to the Garden & Gun Field Store pop-up, and a group of very helpful G&G associates willing to outfit me in anything and everything I could imagine, I began to focus on the fact that I had not seen many of the featured products, or any like them, anywhere else. This made for some unique shopping for gifts for Christmas and for myself.

One of a kind Oyster plates, curated Southern food gift boxes, an incredible collection of cast iron, custom field coats – it was ALL right here. Another Mimosa and it was onto the winners! WHAT A COLLECTION. LL Bean meets Rolex. Make sense?

A pot on a stove top oven sitting inside of a wooden table
A group of people standing in a room

Vivian. No real introduction required if you are as big a fan as I am. From the day her show aired on PBS back in September of 2013, I have been a fan. I appreciate her for her preservation of the old recipes and the old methods and the old stories, and how in preserving them, she is also breathing new life back into them.

Vivian is a huge proponent on people knowing where their food comes from and how it is procured. I also particularly relate to the updates she brings to the foods she remembers growing up with; investigating the original method and recreating it exactly only then to pair a unique flavor profile alongside it, or to add an update to the method. Much of what she featured on the show, she prepared for her diners in her Kinston, North Carolina restaurant, Chef & the Farmer.

Vivian Howard and a woman posing for the camera

During the Garden & Gun Q&A, many a good-humored question pertaining to food and ingredients were thrown Vivian’s way. When it was my turn to ask a question, I hesitated for a moment because I was nervous! But I quickly gained composure and introduced myself.

I asked her when or if she might ever accept the challenge of opening a restaurant here in Charleston, South Carolina. Her response to mine was candid…and surprisingly lengthy. Vivian said she would be nervous to stand the same turf as many of our ‘celebrity themselves’ Charleston chefs. In particular, she called out FIG Restaurant and owner chef Mike Lata by name, adding she “wouldn’t want to open a restaurant on the same street, for fear of failure at this champion of culinary destinations.”

After the open session had ended, I spent some time with Vivian talking food – everything from her days as a chef in New York City to the merits of buttermilk. What can I say other than we were speaking the same language, and for a minute, pure inspiration overcame me.

A man standing on top of a wooden table, with Vivian Howard

Chris Richardson of Richardson Axeworks

A group of people standing in a room
A group of people sitting at a table

Jeffrey Olson of JAO Originals Copper Cookware

I have attended numerous Garden & Gun functions, and this one was no less extravagant as the ones preceding it. If ever anybody knew how to throw a party, it’s this group, and they spare little expense doing it. Many thanks to the MANY hands on deck that made this year’s Made In The South Weekend a tremendous success – your victory was your guests’ spoils.

A person sitting in a living room
Vivian Howard and Author

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2 Comments

  1. Wow! It all looks and sounds sooo good. Good luck with your business Jenny and we know it will be a huge success because we know you!
    We haven’t seen you in years but we worked with you for years …..your a Joisy girl with a big heart and class. You assisted Erin when she needed volunteer hours at the EEC for her college application and she always remembers you. She recently established a brand for her photography business . You and Erin have a lot in common ….a love of travel, fresh foods, and style.
    You are a good freind and if we are down your way will look y’all up.

    Stay well and happy,
    Janie & Jim

    1. Janie and Jim, so glad you took the time to check out NEA! Thank you for the amazing compliments – I remember Erin well, and recently caught a glimpse of her photography via a link you shared – SHE IS AMAZING! You absolutely 100% be certain to alert me to ANY and ALL Southern travel plans – I am an excellent host and guide!