Kinston, North Carolina.
Ever hear of it?
It sits somewhere between here and there in Eastern North Carolina, in one of the poorest congressional districts in the state.
Kinston was a tobacco town, not a culinary destination–that is, until Chef Vivian Howard showed up.
Enter Stage Right
Howard and her husband, Benjamin Knight’s love story reads like a familiar Southern classic. Howard, a Southern bred chef who describes herself as “seemingly cool and calm but panic stricken underneath” meets Knight, an “over reactor,” while working in a New York City restaurant. They fall in love and are married.
Chef Vivian Howard went home again (Kinston NC), defied the odds (opened a farm-to-table restaurant in a tiny rural community) and thrives (a new series “A Chef’s Life” on PBS).
Vivian Scarlett Howard eventually wanted to open her own restaurant and was offered the financial backing to do so by her successful, hog farming parents, John and Scarlett Leigh Howard.
There was one catch: She would have to build it in Kinston, NC where, by her own admission she would “NEVER return.”
Toque Magazine got its start in Lambertville, NJ, a town near Princeton. I had the good fortune to meet Larry Frazer through his wife, Sharyn Murray, at the Princeton Community Television and Digital Media Center. Sharyn saw me working with Ila Couch to get our “What’s for Dinner, America?” video series going and said I should talk to her husband. “He’s a chef who just left Princeton University to teach culinary arts at Eden,” she said. “It might make a good story for you.”
Larry Frazer and Sharyn Murray met on the Dinky, a very short NJ Transit rail link that runs from Princeton Junction to Princeton. They ended up getting married in one of its cars. (Photo © George Vogel)
Larry was high on his new calling, teaching autistic teens basic (and not so basic) culinary skills as Eden Institute’s newest director. We emailed each other and decided that a diary series of his new adventures would be cool to run in Toque.
And they were. The five articles he wrote about his funny, touching and awe-inspiring adventures with would-be teenage chefs were some of our best read features.
Larry’s last installment (Part 5) shares his excitement about the astonishing progress of his students and a note about Eden’s shiny new location. At the very end, he reveals that he has advanced cancer.
Last April, Larry died. He left a yawning hole in many, many people’s lives. To try and fill that hole we wanted to share some of our memories of this amazing, humble person. A man with incredible gifts who had the courage to sacrifice a secure job to follow his dream. Larry was a talented chef who lived to see the emerging talents in his students who had so many life challenges. It took nine months to pull it together but here we are. We’ll hear from “the two Robs:” Robert Harbison, executive chef at Princeton University, and Rob Kimmel, Eden’s new director for the culinary program. We also speak to Sharyn, his wife, who recalls their memorable wedding eight years ago.
As one of the country’s top chefs, Michael Mina has had his share of conventional TV appearances–Top Chef, Hell’s Kitchen, the Cooking Channel’s Food(ography).
Chef Michael Mina and CEO Tanya Melillo launched an online cooking class for those wanting to step it up in the home kitchen.
But in a move that reflects food lovers’ growing preference for online and mobile content, Mina has shrugged off traditional broadcasting and instead is taking his show on the web.
Last weekend, Mina and co-founder Tanya Melillo launched CookTasteEat, a daily serving of video content featuring Mina’s dishes as well as featured recipes and tricks of the trade from guest chefs. It’s a well-considered effort, not only to satisfy the insatiable appetite for online cooking ideas and tips but also as a vehicle for bringing high-level cuisine to an audience who may not have professional culinary training but are more than up for the challenge.