A Chef’s Life

Tonight my daughter Vera and I are making a guest appearance on Vivian Howard’s Emmy Award-winning TV show “A Chef’s Life.”

The show features Vivian and her husband Ben Knight and their restaurant “The Chef and the Farmer” in the small town of Kinston, N.C.

I can’t imagine why Vivian wanted an irascible old historian like me on the show. Some people are hard to figure.

Vera, I can understand. In addition to being a talented public historian, she has great gifts in the kitchen. She loves to feed a crowd and at times she has made her living as a baker and cook. She used to cook for a community soup kitchen, and she was once a professional goat cheese maker, too.

On tonight’s show, Vera, Vivian and I make pear preserves. We used a recipe that I learned from my grandmother’s elderly neighbor in Harlowe. Miss Beadie Mason was almost 100 years old when she taught it to me.

You can find our recipe for pear preserves at the N.C. Folklife Institute's website.

You can find our recipe for pear preserves at the N.C. Folklife Institute’s website. Photo by David Cecelski

We make them every year. They’re a good way to carry a taste of late summer into the winter.

Also, you’ve never seen anything prettier than a row of pear preserves in a pantry in the morning light.

I don’t know how I feel about being on national TV, but I can’t be more grateful for the chance I had to spend a morning making the preserves with Vivian and Vera.

Like my daughter, Vivian is a hoot and a holler and her soul is as deep as the sea.

Cooking with the two of them was a great joy, the kind of thing that a man does not soon forget. I couldn’t ask for better company and it’s a memory I will always cherish.


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