Chef Spotlight: Vivian Howard of Lenoir in Charleston, South Carolina

Vivian Howard owns four restaurants, including her latest, Lenoir
Chef Vivian Howard

Photo by Baxter Miller

Vivian Howard grew up in Lenoir County, North Carolina. She has authored two award-winning cookbooks, created and starred in TV shows Somewhere South and A Chef’s Life, and owns four restaurants—including her latest, Lenoir, in Charleston.

The Accidental Chef
“I started working in kitchens 25 years ago to try to turn that experience into a food-writing career. It was always my dream to write about food. My first cookbook, Deep Run Roots, is 600 pages.”

Food from Lenoir

Photo by Baxter Miller

True to Her Roots
“The food at Lenoir reflects what you would eat in Lenoir County: the food of the frugal farmer. It’s the way rural Southerners who mostly grew their food ate—rooted in vegetables and grains, with meat as a celebration item or a condiment.”

Blues and BBQ
“One time, my dad got me a deal on blueberries for $1 a pound, but you had to buy 500 pounds. By the time I got to them, they were past their prime, so I made blueberry vinegar. Growing up, we’d have barbecue chicken with vinegar sauce, and now the blueberry BBQ chicken wings at Lenoir pay homage to that tradition. They’re sweet and tangy, and I’ve never met a meat eater who didn’t love them.”

This article appears in the Spring & Summer 2022 issue of Southbound.