Durham’s The Boot has hired former Chef & the Farmer sous chef John May

Chef John May, who used to work at Chef & the Farmer in Kinston, is now executive chef at The Boot in Durham.
Chef John May, who used to work at Chef & the Farmer in Kinston, is now executive chef at The Boot in Durham. Courtesy of The Chef & the Farmer

Fans of the PBS show, “A Chef’s Life,” may recognize the new executive chef at The Boot in Durham.

It is John May, who worked alongside chef Vivian Howard at the Chef & The Farmer in Kinston. He often appeared in the kitchen scenes on Howard’s show, which chronicles her life as a wife, mother and entrepreneur and celebrates the foodways of Eastern North Carolina. (The show has won daytime Emmy and Peabody awards and is again up for two James Beard broadcast awards.)

May, 29, worked at Chef & The Farmer for two-and-a-half years while his wife studied to become a physician assistant at East Carolina University. He had previously been a Marine, studied at The Art Institute in Durham and worked at the Weathervane restaurant at Chapel Hill’s Southern Season store. He said his wife got a job at Duke Primary Care, which prompted their return to the Triangle.

May started at The Boot on Feb. 1. Diners have likely noticed some changes for the Italian-American restaurant that was opened in late 2014 by Durham chefs Andy Magowan and Andy Perno. Magowan is the former owner of Piedmont restaurant and also owns the popular Geer Street Garden, both in Durham. Perno worked with Magowan at Piedmont and helped open Geer Street Garden; his wife, Rebekah, is the Boot’s general manager.

Magowan said this week that May has taken the Boot’s menu in a more seasonal, farm-to-fork direction but not fancy. The menu changes a bit more often, he added.

May said: “It’s an Italian-American restaurant with a focus less on American and more on Italian.”

May is using a lot of local artisan products, such as new plates and bowls by a North Carolina potter and Boxcarr Handmade Cheese. Despite the changes, May said prices will stay the same.

Info: 2501 University Dr., Durham; 919-294-8383;; Hours: 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 5-9 p.m. Sunday-Saturday.

Weigl: 919-829-4848;