Episode 4: Cracklin' Kitchen | A Chef's Life | PBS Food

A Chef’s Life, Episode 4: Cracklin’ Kitchen

In A Chef’s Life, go inside the life of chef Vivian Howard, who, with her husband Ben Knight, left the big city to open a fine dining restaurant in small-town eastern North Carolina. Each episode follows Howard out of the kitchen and into cornfields, strawberry patches and hog farms as she hunts down the ingredients that inspire her seasonal menus. Using a chef’s modern sensibilities, she explores Southern cuisine, past and present — one ingredient at a time. A celebration of true farm to table food, the series combines the action and drama of a high-pressure business with the joys and stresses of family life.

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Vivian goes about christening the restaurant’s new “whole animal, no waste” program with two little pigs from Warren Brothers’ farm. She uses everything — including the skin — and shows us, upon her father’s recommendation, how to make her version of sweet potatoes with cracklins.


Vivian’s Cooking Demo


Vivian’s Featured Recipe

Citrus Sweet Potato Puree with Pork Cracklins

Pork and sweet potatoes are food that every Southern cook knows how to prepare a thousand ways. This variation appears in the "Cracklin' Kitchen" episode of A Chef's Life, featuring chef Vivian Howard.



  • 4 large roast sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 orange
  • 1 lime
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt


  1. Peel the sweet potatoes and drop them in the bowl of your food processor. Melt the butter and sugar until they come together as a liquid. Zest the orange, lime and lemon into the processor and add their juice as well. Begin processing and stream in the hot butter/sugar mixture and salt. Taste and adjust the seasoning to your liking. Serve topped with lots of cracklins!


You will need a food processor and a microplane, for zesting.

Yield: 4 servings


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