Imagine listening to an impromptu Avett Brothers jam session in the living room of a restored century home and sipping on North Carolina corn whiskey cocktails while Chef Vivian Howard is in the kitchen preparing your dinner. If you have a chance to tune into the Onions and Avetts episode of A Chef’s Life on PBS this week, you can catch a glimpse of what the best dinner party ever might resemble.
This was how I spent my 39th birthday. Possibly the best birthday dinner? I think so.
In 2014, Lomax Farm, a local incubator farm that helps new farmers learn to farm organically and sustainably, suddenly had its funding cut short. Seeds were in the ground. Plants were growing. Farmers were fully engaged in preparation for the spring and summer season and they found themselves inexplicably threatened with having no water and no power by the end of the month.
A North Carolina organization dear to my heart, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, stepped up and chipped in to keep the farm open. Once the immediate crisis was averted, CFSA immediately set out to look for others to help. Local brothers, Scott and Seth Avett, heard about the situation in their hometown, and offered to do whatever was needed to help keep Lomax Farm open. Soon after, a dinner party to top all dinner parties was plotted and planned.
Music? Check. Local chef? Check. Local food? Check. Check. Check. Videography crew? Why not.
From the moment my husband and I arrived at Ritchie Hill in Concord, NC and saw Craig Rogers with his lamb roasting on the spit and heard Joe Rowland, a former Lomax incubator farmer in training, playing music on the front porch, I had goosebumps. Watching cars pull up the gravel drive, some of the faces familiar, others soon to be new friends, I was simply excited that so many people decided to spend a beautiful May evening to do their part to make sure Lomax farmers could keep growing.
One year later, the memories of this dinner are still clearly etched in my mind. And, as luck would have it, being that our dinner was prepared by North Carolina celebrity chef, Vivian Howard, a chef with her own PBS documentary series, I now get to relive the event over and over again as I watch the premier of season 4 of A Chef’s Life – Onions and Avetts.
If you haven’t watched A Chef’s Life yet, you need to get caught up. Every thirty minute episode features a local ingredient or local style of cooking unique to the south and a glimpse into the crazy life of Vivian Howard and her husband, Ben, as they run two restaurants and manage twins! Also, if you are in North Carolina and love a good road trip, I highly suggest you make a drive to Kinston, NC and see their restaurants for yourself. Chef and the Farmer will not disappoint. I’ve only been once but I am already planning a return visit.
With two sleeps to go, I am excited to reunite with many of those who came together at Ritchie Hill last May to gather once again to support Lomax Farm. This Sunday, September 11th, the cast and crew of A Chef’s Life will be hosting an all-day party in downtown Kannapolis followed by a ticketed event to view the season premiere at the Gem Theatre. It’s not too late to get tickets! You can also show up – no tickets required – between 2 and 5 to be a part of the party downtown, spot Chef Vivian Howard’s new food truck, enjoy some delicious food and good music and then head home to watch the season premier of Onions and Avetts from the comfort of your own couch.
Hope to see you there! I’ll try my best not to overshare on Instagram… 😉