My hubs and I once had a dream of owning a farm to table restaurant. We were pretty darn close to making that dream come true. We bought the space, hired an architect, had solid relationships with farmers, developed menus and ideas… everything from decor, training staff and educating the public and schools about good food.
After a year of planning and burning through a whole lot of money, we were at a crossroads… the community support we needed never materialized and we had a choice, do we put more of our own money into this dream in a town that seemed lukewarm to our dream or cut our losses. It was a struggle and we were downright sad. But when one door closes, another opens and we choose another dream… move to the beach!!
Fast forward to last month, when I surprised my hubs with a night out-of-town for our 10-year anniversary. It was almost a tear-jerker of a situation to walk into Chef and the Farmer in Kinston, NC. It is literally what we imagined our restaurant would be: open kitchen, jazzed staff, Edison lightbulbs, smooth concrete floors and most importantly… delicious, local food (as in everything is from 30 miles or less away). When I write about the food, it was literally one of my top 3 lifetime meals, including meals that I have devoured in Italy!
What did we eat? What didn’t we eat is more like it. We started with:
- Fried Collards, flash fried collards, sea salt
- Shoestring Fries, kitchen sink mayonnaise
- Blueberry BBQ Pork Belly Skewers, pickled jalapeños, cilantro
Then, we took a break. And by break, I literally mean break. We left the restaurant and went for a quick 15 minute walk around town before our main course came. Between the drinks, the food and being in just utter joy, we just needed a walk!
When we returned, we had:
- Cherokee Purple Tomatoes, sweet corn, charred onion, bacon fat croutons, creamy Parmesan dressing
- Sage Brined Bone-In Pork Chop, country-style green beans, blueberry chutney, watercress
For dessert, we enjoyed:
- This part is a ‘lil hazy. It was something with blueberries (since they are in season) and homemade ice-cream. I remember it being amazing :)
Some awesome things we drank (partly causing my dessert haze)…
Our waitress introduced us Chef Viviane Howard, owner/chef and also star of her own PBS show, A Chef’s Life. What a lovely gal. Totally down to earth, inspiring and a breath of fresh air. After meeting her, I decided to I had to watch the show and now the obsession can continue in my own living room. The show, on PBS, is super inspiring for anyone who loves to cook/eat good, real food. She focuses on one ingredient each episode, taking you to the farm where it comes from, shows you how to cook it, then takes you into dinner service where it is being served.
And to think that she just got a two-book deal. Thank god my obsession can continue into the distant future.
We sold the restaurant space and bought a beach house. Now, we are thrilled that someone else has lived out of our dream and we can enjoy the fruits of her and her hubs labor of love. Thank you Chef Viviane.