“A Chef’s Life,” a television show starring Kinston chef Vivian Howard that airs on PBS, won a Peabody award Wednesday.
“I’m so excited,” Howard said Wednesday morning about winning the broadcast industry’s equivalent of a Pulitzer Prize. The awards acknowledge excellence in radio, television and web storytelling.
Howard co-owns the Chef and the Farmer restaurant with her husband, Ben Knight, as well as an oyster and burger bar in Kinston called Boiler Room Oyster Bar. She works on the show with a husband-and-wife team of filmmakers Cynthia Hill and Rex Miller. Hill and Howard grew up together in eastern North Carolina.
The show is part-cooking segment, part exploration of Southern food, and particularly eastern North Carolina foodways. “A Chef’s Life” airs on PBS stations in markets covering about 92 percent of the country, according to Hill. In January, Hill said, they learned that they had 8 million views of the first season.
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On Tuesday, Hill was working a fill-in pharmacist at a Walmart in High Point when she got numerous texts from Howard to call her. When she finally heard the news, Hill said, “I was basically screaming on the inside.”
Howard didn’t think they had a chance of winning a Peabody award. “You submit an application. We just did it as an exercise but we didn’t think we could be considered,” Howard said. “What we really hope that it translates into a sponsor for the show.”
Right now, the show airs without a major sponsor, which means Hill and Howard are scraping together funds to make the show. Getting a sponsor would allow the women to actually be paid to do the show. They are currently filming a second season. The show’s first season is being aired again at various times during the week on UNC-TV.
The Peabody awards ceremony will be hosted by radio personality Ira Glass on May 19 in New York City.
This isn’t the first good awards news related to the show. A Chef’s Life is also a finalist for a James Beard Foundation broadcast journalism award. The women will find out May 2 at another awards ceremony in New York City whether they will take home that award.