September 16, 2016 • CULTURE, FOOD, PEOPLE

DJ Dines: Chef Vivian Howard on the Music City Food + Wine Festival

The Music City Food + Wine Festival, one of the highlights of the fall season, happens this very weekend.

Just minutes from our Nashville store in Bicentennial Park, this celebration of Southern food and drink is jam-packed with tastings, meet-and-greets, and cooking demos from the region’s top culinary talents.

Chief among them: Vivian Howard. As chef and proprietor of award-winning restaurants Chef & The Farmer and Boiler Room Oyster Bar, Vivian has made her hometown of Kinston, NC, a foodie destination. She’s also receiving accolades for her new book, out next month, as well as the latest season of her TV show, now running on PBS.

Learn more about it all in our Q&A right here.


Vivian Howard, chef and proprietor of  Chef & The Farmer and Boiler Room Oyster Bar in Kingston, NC, is wearing our Roxanne Button Down Shirt. She’s among the top talents at this weekend’s Music City Food + Wine Festival. (Image credit: Josh Woll.)


“I’m really into navy these days, and I thought the cut of the Draper James Roxanne Button Down was really flattering. It’s the type of thing that looks good on everyone,” says Vivian.

How will you be taking part in the Music City Food + Wine Festival this weekend?

I’m cooking at the Harvest Table Saturday night, where I’ll be making fried green tomatoes with apple butter, aged cheddar, and arugula. I’ll be doing an on-stage demo Sunday.

Favorite part of the festival?

Getting to bring some of my staff to Nashville. I love watching them talk shop with other kitchen people. That feels really good to me.

Your restaurants are in Kinston, NC. What about North Carolina cooking, in particular, do you love?

We have four clearly defined seasons in eastern North Carolina, and we’re situated close to the coast. Plus everyone here has some connection to farming, so the way we eat shifts dramatically over the course of the year according to what nature offers up. I can’t separate early fall from muscadines and green peanuts, and I can’t imagine winter without rockfish stew with poached eggs or chicken bog. I guess what I’m trying to say is that North Carolina cooking has a heartbeat.

Three favorite ingredients to cook with?

Greens, shellfish, and fruit.

Besides eating at Chef & The Farmer and Boiler Room Oyster Bar, what are three things we should do on a visit to Kinston, NC?

Eat a pig in a puppy at King’s. Kayak up or down the Neuse River. Have a beer at Mother Earth brewery.


Chef & The Farmer is one of two restaurants owned by Vivian and her husband, Ben, in Kinston, NC.

You are premiering a 4th season of A Chef’s Life on PBS this month. What do we have to look forward to?

The cool thing about this season is that you get a rare behind-the-scenes look at writing a cookbook. [Check out Vivian’s new cookbook, Deep Run Roots, out next month, and click here to see a recipe she shared with us.] It’s much more than testing recipes and frankly, more than I expected. We also explore rabbit as a sustainable protein source and mayonnaise as our “mother sauce.” The mayonnaise episode is my favorite!

We have to ask: What’s your favorite Southernism?

Wow! I love so many! I’m gonna go with “I reckon”—like, ‘I reckon I’m gonna take out the trash.’ That means, ‘I’m going to do this thing I don’t really want to do because no one else is willing to do it. And by saying it out loud, I’m giving everyone in earshot a last chance to do it for me.’


Want to try a recipe from Vivian’s new cookbook, Deep Run Roots? Learn how she makes Roasted & Fresh Tomato Pie and here for her recipe for Peanut, Pepsi & Bourbon Floats. Yum and more yum.