Thursday, January 19, 2017

When Restaurants Give Back

Any eatery is a vital part of any community. It not only provides good food and happy memories but jobs, commerce for local suppliers  and even food for soup kitchens. Many are a vital key to a town's and chef's success.

This was explored in yesterday's New York Times Food section. Kim Severson interviewed Vivian Howard, who not only is a chef and restaurant owner but also the quiet star of the PBS show "A Chef's Life." This is a reality show and a sedate one that's been on for five seasons. Her restaurant Chef & the Farmer. has helped the area , once prosperous with tobacco production and shirt manufacturing. Thanks to the show that Chef Howard and her husband, Ben Knight have brought tourists to the small town of Kinston, North Carolina. a small town located in the Carolinas coastal plain.It hasn't' always been like that. She had wanted to leave the area, heading for boarding school at age fourteen and then heading to North Carolina State. and ultimately to Manhattan. It was only when she became a chef and asked back to the area by a brother-in-law who wanted a restaurant  in the building he owned. Vivian and her husband brought prosperity back to a town that had been badly hit by Hurricane Floyd. Factories closed. It was hard for locals to find any kind of work.

They were able to bring life to a destroyed town. Chef Knight not only has the restaurant but also  an oyster bar and burger joint. There are plans for a bakery. Kinston, itself, has undergone a renaissance of sorts thanks to them and the show's popularity. A local investor has opened up a boutique hotel along with the well regarded Mother Earth Taproom and Brewery. Chef Howard sources from local farmers and butchers, The woman who taught her how to properly bake biscuits has turned this talent into a lucrative baking class. Local restauranteurs, no matter where they are should take heed of this, A restaurant can bring much prosperity to a town, especially in blighted areas. Those who are thinking of opening up an eatery should take into account their effect on the local community. Hire the neighborhood kids and seniors. Look to local farms for produce. Ask about local recipes or better yet go to church socials or community center see what they 're eating.Another important factor is don;t make too snobby and cater to one class. That'll mean a sure ending to both restaurant and chef's reputation.

Chef Howard knows that a restaurant feeds both the locals and the local economy. Hers should a model for future chefs looking to open their own eateries. Her inspiration  should be a fuel for these future restauranteurs.

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