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A Chef’s Life Holiday Special

Airs Friday, Dec. 13, 2019 at 10 p.m. on KPBS 2

Chef Vivian celebrates the holidays with foods that draw on her Southern heri...

Credit: Courtesy of Rex Miller

Above: Chef Vivian celebrates the holidays with foods that draw on her Southern heritage and Ben's Chanukah traditions.

This holiday season, the popular series A CHEF’S LIFE invites viewers on a journey to discover and rediscover holiday traditions with a one-hour documentary "A Chef’s Life Holiday Special."

Chef Vivian Howard hosts a holiday to remember at her home in Eastern North Carolina as she creates a Southern holiday feast steeped in her family’s Christmas and Chanukah traditions.

Having spent most of her adult life in the kitchens of highly-lauded restaurants, Vivian has rarely celebrated the holidays during busy Decembers.

This year, she and her husband Ben Knight are determined to give their toddler twins a traditional holiday experience, cooking, laughing, and yes, crying their way through Southern traditions new and old.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Rex Miller

Ben, Vivian and the twins pictured on their 2013 holiday card.

On "A Chef’s Life Holiday Special," Vivian discovers that mistletoe is traditionally shot out of a pecan tree, experiences her first hog killing, and leads a “tacky Christmas sweater” night with the restaurant staff at Chef and the Farmer restaurant.

This is television you can virtually taste, complete with culinary expert friends and family stopping by to help Vivian with her feast. Chef Scott Barton (Voyage), Vivian’s mentor and an expert on Southern food, shows her how to prepare Hoppin’ John, and North Carolina’s Bill Smith (Crook’s Corner) shares his secrets for his world famous corned ham.

Vivian recreates her childhood memories as she bakes red velvet cake with her sister and celebrates the first night of Chanukah with Ben’s family, making traditional foods and lighting the menorah.

Get the recipes for:


Date, Pecan and Bacon Cheese Ball with Curried Peach Preserves

Candied Yams with Bacon Pecan Syrup

Old Timey Applejacks

Red Velvet Cake

Corned Ham

Hoppin’ John

Holiday Cheese Ball

Vivian prepares her take on a classic holiday party appetizer: the cheese ball.

Join The Conversation:

A CHEF'S LIFE is on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and you can follow @chefsouth on Twitter. Chef and the Farmer restaurant is on Facebook, and you can follow @chefandthef on Twitter.

About The Series:

More than a cooking show, A CHEF’S LIFE is a character-driven documentary series that takes viewers inside the life and kitchen of chef Vivian Howard. Howard originally made a name for herself in the competitive Manhattan restaurant world, before she and her husband Benjamin Knight moved back to her home of Eastern Northern Carolina to open their own restaurant.

From a devastating fire to the opening of a second restaurant, A CHEF’S LIFE has followed Vivian and Ben as they raise a family, manage their business, and discover the food traditions that make the South such a special place. A CHEF’S LIFE was honored with a Peabody Award in 2014 and was also nominated for a James Beard Award.


A CHEF'S LIFE is produced by Markay Media in association with SCETV Presents. The series is directed and produced by Cynthia Hill with Rex Miller as co-producer and cinematographer. Derek Britt is the Executive Producer, and the series is edited by Tom Vickers. The opening title song, “Will You Return,” is written and performed by the Avett Brothers. Amy Shumaker is Executive-in-Charge for SCETV Presents.


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