'A Chef's Life - Season One + Season Two'
(2-DVD / NR / 2015 / PBS)
Overview: 'A Chef's Life' is a character-driven documentary and cooking series. Much more dynamic than a typical cooking show, A Chef's Life plunges audiences into the kitchen of a highbrow restaurant located in the "low country" of North Carolina.
DVD Verdict: Come and join Chef Vivian Howard's personal and culinary journey from the top restaurants in New York to her return to Eastern North Carolina as she explores the rich bounty of farm fresh cooking, family and community. Each of the 13 half-hour season one episodes follows Vivian out of the kitchen and into cornfields, strawberry patches and hog farms as she hunts down the ingredients that inspire her seasonal menus.
It has to be said, that Howard's skill in the kitchen is an equal match for her charismatic personality, radiating behind crystal grey eyes. Vivian and her husband, Ben Knight, who also owns and operates Chef & the Farmer, a farm-to-table restaurant in Kinston, NC are the most perfect of hosts, and couples to take you on these delicious of journey's.
On the first of the two discs of Season One, we get lessons such as Sweet Corn & Expensive Tea, Strawberry Stay at Home, Pimp My Grits, Cracklin' Kitchen, Tomatoes...You Say Heirloom, I Say Old Timey, The World is Your Oyster, and Muscadine Time. Phew! Even more recipes are served up on the second disc with A Road Trip For Rice, Peanut Pastime, Love Me Some Candied Yams!, Collard Green Queen, The Buttermilk Belt, and Have Yourself Some Moonshine.
Howard takes southern food from her childhood and locals and elevates it to a superior level, showing that she is a great chef. It is not some fake reality show that uses a script. Vivian Howard is very real and funny, often laughing at the craziness of it all!
In Season Two of the Peabody Award Winning 'A Chef's Life,' the show hits the road with a new roster of Southern ingredients: blueberries, shrimp, turnips and butterbeans, to name just a few. Indeed, due to all the success from the show, Vivian and Ben open a second restaurant, plant heirloom apple trees, go pier fishing, hunt ramps and pick up pecans!
On the first of the two discs of Season Two we get lessons such as Blueberries and Boiling Over, Shrimp Sells, R-E-S-P-E-C-T the Butterbean, Don't Tom Thumb Your Nose at Me! Part 1, Don't Tom Thumb Your Nose at Me! Part 2, Apples, and The Fish Episode, Y'all. The second disc kicks off with Obviously, It's Pecans, Turnips - The Roots, Turnips - The Greens, Chicken Lickin', Ramp-ing up to Spring, Eggs: A Dozen Ways, and Eggs: Two Dozen Ways.
'A Chef's Life - Season One + Season Two' both contain fantastic recipes featuring home town produce, wine, meat, mixed with a great growing family story. This is real and not contrived or flamboyant production. From moonshine drinks to grape pizza the cuisine is great and filled with history of this quaint region. I cannot recommend these DVDs highly enough, no matter where you live in the US - or, indeed, the world! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.78:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.