Vivian Howard, the North Carolina chef/restaurateur who starred in A Chef’s Life, has another new TV show in the works at PBS called South by Somewhere. While her previous series was a hybrid of a culinary documentary and a cooking show, this one will be more of a travelogue, featuring Howard visiting chefs and farmers around the South to learn about their specialties.
In the new trailer, Howard makes dumplings with Mind of a Chef veteran Edward Lee, and she gets a tour of The Grey from Chef’s Table alum Mashama Bailey. But the show will primarily focus on chefs and home cooks who aren’t TV stars: Howard will make collard green sandwiches with native Lumbee home cooks in North Carolina, she’ll learn all about the legacy of pepperoni rolls in West Virginia coal country, and she will eat rice middlins with Gullah chefs in South Carolina. “I made new friends, I met new teachers, and I became a better cook,” she says in the trailer.
Howard previously won a James Beard Award for starring in A Chef’s Life, which ended last year after five seasons. In the food TV landscape, it’s all too common to see stars simply replicate the formula of a previous hit show in a slightly different format — look at Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares and 24 Hours to Hell and Back — which is why it’s interesting to see Howard and her collaborator Cynthia Hill branch out with something that seems very different. It’s also notable that, especially in an era when glossy shows like Chef’s Table and Top Chef are so popular, Howard will be showcasing the work of home cooks in addition to restaurant chefs.
PBS has not announced a release date for South by Somewhere yet, but it will make its debut sometime in the first half of 2020. Stay tuned for updates on the show as they become available.