November 2018

Lucky Rooster Kitchen + Bar to Host Southern Pop-Up with Vivian Howard

Author: Tracy Green

Food tells a story. Southern cooking, especially, tells a story. A story woven through generations and rooted to the land around it. That’s what makes it such a powerful and rich legacy still savored today.

Chef Vivian Howard, known for her award-winning PBS show A Chef’s Life, will bring her stories and recipes to Hilton Head Island for two nights of dinners at Lucky Rooster Kitchen + Bar, where she’ll collaborate with chef Clayton Rollison to present recipes from her cookbook Deep Run Roots on Nov. 23 and 24.

The book is named for her hometown of Deep Run, North Carolina—a place she describes as the middle of nowhere. After a decade in New York, however, she returned in 2005 and opened her popular restaurant Chef & the Farmer in nearby Kinston.

Howard’s parents were farmers who raised hogs and grew tobacco, cotton, soybeans and corn. She attended boarding school, studied English at North Carolina State University, and dreamt of becoming a food writer. She completed a culinary-focused study-abroad program in Argentina while at NCSU but started her career in advertising in New York City. Eighteen months later, she quit and started her first restaurant job at Voyage. She decided to attend culinary school, graduating from the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City in 2004.

“I started working in restaurant kitchens because I wanted to turn that experience into a career in food writing,” Howard said. “I guess then, Deep Run Roots, my first cookbook, is the culmination of that pursuit.”

But before the cookbook came the cooking. Howard interned at Wylie Dufresne’s wd~50 and trained as Chef de Partie at Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Spice Market, both award-winning restaurants in NYC.

She started a soup delivery business out of the apartment she shared with her husband, Ben Knight, a coworker from Voyage. They chilled soup in the bathtub and considered a brick-and-mortar location that had interested investors.

Someone else wanted to invest in Howard and Knight, though—Howard’s parents. Her father offered to help them start their restaurant, along with a parcel of land where they could build a house. Chef & the Farmer is known for its commitment to local sourcing—more than 60 percent of ingredients come from within 90 miles of the restaurant. Howard hoped the restaurant would help transition displaced tobacco farmers into food farmers; they now work with nearly two dozen different local farmers.

“I often tell people that Ben and I had our first baby in June 2006,” when the restaurant opened, Howard said. “I’m proud of what our first child has accomplished and excited for her future.”

They’ve opened two additional restaurants and have a third on the way. Boiler Room Oyster Bar is also in Kinston, with Benny’s Big Time Pizzeria in Wilmington. A bakery is set to join the Kinston lineup. They also have two non-restaurant children, twins Theo and Flo.

Many people became acquainted with Howard through the PBS series she co-created, A Chef’s Life, in which she spotlighted Southern ingredients for five seasons. The show’s final season aired last fall and will close out with a “Harvest Special” episode that is scheduled to broadcast nationally on Monday, Oct. 22.

Rollison said his story is much like Howard’s. He’s a Hilton Head Island native who grew up on the island but went on to attend culinary school in NYC. Like her, he felt the pull to return to his roots and highlight the Lowcountry’s ingredients and culture.

“I’m excited to work with chef Vivian and share her food story with Hilton Head,” he said. “Thanksgiving is such a time of creating special memories over food, and these dinners will be a great opportunity to gather with your friends and family and do just that.”

When Howard and her family come to Hilton Head for these dinners, they will make it a long holiday weekend. They look forward to exploring and enjoying all the island has to offer. Ziplining may be on their leisure itinerary when Howard is not in Lucky Rooster’s kitchen.

The pop-up dinners with Vivian Howard will take place Friday, Nov. 23, and Saturday, Nov. 24, at Lucky Rooster Kitchen + Bar, 841 William Hilton Parkway. This will be not only a great opportunity to sample chef Howard’s recipes from her cookbook, but copies of her cookbook will be available for sale, and she’s happy to personalize them for guests. Sounds like a great holiday gift to us!

To make a reservation, call (843) 681-3474. For more information, follow Lucky Rooster Kitchen + Bar on social media.

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