Best of ‘A Chef’s Life’ with Vivian Howard
Baked in Kinston and delivered all over the country: That’s the plan for chef Vivian Howard’s latest venture.
Handy & Hot launched Tuesday as a small-batch online bakery, nearly two years after Howard announced the venture as a Kinston bakeshop and cafe specializing in Southern handpies.
A brick-and-mortar spot is on hold for now, according to the bakery’s website. Instead, Handy & Hot will make desserts around holidays. First up, Mother’s Day, and Howard has tapped a lime coconut cornmeal pound cake for its maiden voyage. Howard said it’s inspired by her mother, Scarlett Howard, and appeared in the first season of “A Chef’s Life,” the award-winning PBS series, on the strawberry episode.
“If my mom made dessert, it was simple,” Howard says on her website. “The sweet I think about most wasn’t really dessert at all. It was Mom’s cornbread, sliced, reheated and topped with crushed berries and cool whip.”
Howard and husband, Ben Knight, are co-owners of three restaurants, including Kinston’s Chef & the Farmer and the Boiler Room and Benny’s Big Time Pizzeria in Wilmington.
In an email newsletter, Howard said Hurricane Florence brought the plan for a brick-and-mortar shop to a “standstill.”
“A big part of the bakeshop, and really the way we saw it being successful was through limited edition baked goods sold exclusively online,” Howard said in an email newsletter. “We decided to invert the business model and launch the online part first.”
Only 500 cakes will be baked for shipping. Cakes are $30, plus shipping. Orders must be placed by May 7 to arrive before Mother’s Day.
“A Chef’s Life” ended last year after five seasons, collecting Emmy and Peabody Awards along the way. Howard and director Cynthia Hill of Markay Media are working on a follow-up series exploring the intersections of culinary traditions around the world.
Howard has been active in fundraising for victims of Hurricane Florence, cooking at various events in the Triangle following the storm and creating a “Country as Cornbread” T-shirt campaign that collected more than $100,000 in relief money.
She has curated a lineup of chefs to appear at the demonstration stage of next week’s Thrive NC, a two-day food festival at City Market.
The Handy & Hot cakes are the first foodstuff made by Howard to be shipped out of the Kinston orbit. She has been involved in creating meal kits with Lowe’s Foods.