2017 Tar Heels of the Year: Ashley Christensen and Vivian Howard
More from the series
The News & Observer’s Tar Heel of the Year
The News & Observer recognizes North Carolina residents who have made significant contributions in the last year and beyond. This year, we asked readers to tell us about people who have made a difference in our state. Here are our stories.
A plate of food can be transportive, ferrying diners through time and place, through personal memories and different cultures.
Over the past decade, chefs Ashley Christensen and Vivian Howard have made their marks in Raleigh and Kinston, igniting economic growth from forgotten corners of their cities. Through their taste and skill in the kitchen, savvy business ownership and rising profiles in the food world, they’ve elevated the expectations and pride of North Carolina diners.
Beginning with Poole’s Diner, Christensen has built a restaurant empire centered around the joy of sharing a meal. The James Beard Award winner has raised millions for the causes she’s passionate about and spoken out on sexual harassment in the restaurant industry.
Howard gambled big when she opened the fine dining Chef & the Farmer in downtown Kinston. The success of that restaurant and her PBS series “A Chef’s Life” has shined a national spotlight on Eastern North Carolina and has helped bring hope and money to the region. The James Beard Award winner has become a champion for rural life.
That’s why, on the 20th anniversary of naming our first Tar Heels of the Year, we recognize these women for the work they have done, and the mission they continue to pursue. We can’t wait to see, and eat, what’s next.
Drew Jackson; 919-829-4707; @jdrewjackson