Vivian’s plate is full of everything. Except tomatoes. As Chef & the Farmer turns 10 years old, Vivian embarks on a fruitless search for the season’s first ripe tomatoes to serve at the restaurant’s birthday party. For the celebration that brings back familiar faces and dishes, she concocts a menu that represents a decade of professional growth, and then seeks the wisdom of Mrs. Mary and Ms. Lilli
With Summer heat high and rain levels low, Vivian struggles to scrounge up enough green beans to add to the menu at Chef & the Farmer. Her kitchen capers continue as she stumbles to find her rhythm with a new chef firmly in place. Mrs. Tessie Mae offers levity by giving Vivian a golf cart tour of her garden, an intro to pickled pork, and a lesson in snapping pole beans.
Vivian preps peppers for a trip to Lambstock, a party where chefs, food, and music converge. Even with Warren behind the wheel, the road provides unexpected woes. Before hitting the highway, Holley’s grandmother offers a lesson in stuffing peppers and delegating authority.
Vivian, her parents, and Flo pluck pears from a tree that’s been in the family for 100 years. The arrival of Vivian's cookbook sparks a well of emotions as the reality of wheeling a food truck around the country sets in. In order to get a better handle on the truck, Vivian and her crew do a practice run at the farmer's market and serve up Tom Thumb with pear relish.
Vivian heads to NYC where her book launch means a full itinerary. A celebration dinner at Bon Appétit Kitchen follows her appearance on the Rachael Ray Show where Vivian finds that a shot of bourbon goes a long way. Back at the shop, Ben and crew ready the food truck for its first stop in Nashville. While there, a lack of rain leads Vivian on a challenging hunt for broccoli.
What begins as a dinner at Maker’s Mark in Vivian’s honor ends as an American history lesson. A tour of Maker’s Mark and Jefferson’s distilleries illuminates the differences between whiskey, scotch, and bourbon for Vivian who also learns how Frank and Jesse James fit into Kentucky’s boozy biography.
On a short hiatus from the book tour, Vivian takes the twins to pick persimmons off Mrs. Betty’s tree and learns about the different varieties of the fruit. She then takes that knowledge to Atlanta where an event called “Hired Guns” pits chefs and their dishes against each other. Back in Kinston, Vivian gets a pudding lesson from chef Bill Smith of Crook’s Corner in Chapel Hill.
Vivian plans a respite from the road during the holidays, but finds herself equally busy at home. She volunteers at a soup kitchen and does one last book signing in Kinston before the holidays. Vivian also visits Sunburst Trout Farms and prepares a Feast of the Seven Fishes dinner at the restaurant where trout — from roe to filet — shines.
Vivian visits one of her favorite farmers and an eastern North Carolina restaurant known for its fried livers. She learns that not all livers are created equal, but are equally good for you. Back at home, Mrs. Scarlett prepares a humble, old-school dish of beef liver and onions, which inspires Vivian to introduce a fancy, controversial liver dish to the restaurant's menu.
While enjoying some time at home, Vivian films a segment for a morning TV show where cornbread takes center stage. She then stops by a Kinston institution that merges cornbread with another Southern signature to create a handheld delicacy called “the pig and a puppy,” and creates her own version for a charity dinner. Back in the kitchen, Mrs. Scarlett & Ms. Lillie team up in a cornbread cook-off.