It appears Kinston chef Vivian Howard’s transformative PBS series “A Chef’s Life” will conclude this fall with a storybook ending.
There will be a final one-hour “Chef’s Life” special airing nationally on PBS on Oct. 22 called “Harvest Special” as something of a series epilogue, Markay Media, the show’s production company said this summer.
One day earlier, though, Howard will throw a hometown viewing party for the final episode Sunday, Oct. 21 in Kinston. The viewing party will be held at Grainger Stadium, home of the minor league baseball team the Down East Wood Ducks. After the hour-long special, Howard, series director Cynthia Hill and the crew of A Chef’s Life will sit for a panel discussion. Tickets are $10.
In July, Markay Media, the Durham-based production company for “A Chef’s Life,” announced the show would wrap after five seasons.
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After winning a slew of awards, including a recent Daytime Emmy for Best Culinary Program, there won’t be a sixth season for the homegrown blockbuster that put a spotlight on the food traditions of Eastern North Carolina and Howard’s hometown of Deep Run.
But Howard’s television career is expected to continue in a new food-centric series, possibly next year.
Howard and Markay Media say a new show will feature six hourlong episodes airing on PBS, with Howard playing the part of culinary anthropologist and showcasing the foods and traditions that cross and connect cultures.
“I’m excited about his new opportunity to move into primetime,” Howard said in a news release from Markay Media. “The new show will continue to highlight Kinston and the South. I cannot wait to share it with all of our fans.”
An air date hasn’t been selected. The series name also hasn’t been finalized, though it has a working title of “South by Somewhere” in sponsorship materials.
In the Markay Media release, Pam Aguilar, senior director programming and development at PBS, confirmed PBS is working with Howard on the series.
“We’ve been really happy collaborating with Vivian Howard and the entire ‘A Chef’s Life’ team. PBS looks forward to continuing our relationship and following Vivian’s culinary journeys.”
“A Chef’s Life” has chronicled and led to much of Howard’s rise to fame, from the rebuilding of her flagship restaurant the Chef and the Farmer after a fire and her first time cooking at the James Beard House in New York to the most recent season where she was out on the road supporting her cookbook “Deep Run Roots.”
Howard also has an oyster bar in Kinston, called the Boiler Room, and the new Benny’s Big Time Pizzeria in Wilmington.
Howard has hinted at the possibility that “A Chef’s Life” had run its course, speaking at the Durham premiere of the show’s fifth season about her belief that every culture has its noodle. The new project looks to explore those intersections.
“This doesn’t mean an end of the road for ‘A Chef’s Life’ fans,” Markay Media owner and director Cynthia Hill said in a release. “This is a new fork in the road with exciting adventures ahead.”
“A Chef’s Life” premiered in 2013, with each episode diving into a single ingredient, be it tomatoes, collards, fish or pork, and its relationship to the family tables of Eastern North Carolina. The show has filled up a trophy case with awards, from Peabodys, James Beard and the Daytime Emmys.
The show’s win for this year’s Outstanding Culinary Program Daytime Emmy is a high-water mark, beating out long-running, big-budget programs in potentially the golden age of food television.