[gentle music] - On a list of the world's most sneaky ingredients, I would say that peppers are probably number one.
Is it hot?
Is it sweet?
You don't really know till you take a bite.
- One, two, three, four.
- I'm Vivian, and I'm chef.
My husband, Ben, and I were working for some of the best chefs in New York City, when my parents offered to help us open our own restaurant.
Of course, there was a catch.
We had to open this restaurant in eastern North Carolina where I grew up and said I would never return.
["Will You Return" by the Avett Brothers] - ♪ I wish you'd see yourself ♪ ♪ As beautiful as I see you ♪ all: ♪ Why can't you see yourself ♪ ♪ As beautiful as I see you ♪ - So this is my life.
Raising twins, living on my parents' farm and exploring the South one ingredient at a time.
Previously on "A Chef's Life"... - We've had this little drought and all of Miss Tessie Mae's rattlesnake beans are gone.
You know what?
It's Mother Nature.
You know, I just wrote this cook book and there's a little chapter on seasoning meat.
And I don't have anything in there about pickled pork and it's bothering me now.
- [laughs] Well, you'll just have to write another book.
- [laughs] [light guitar music] ♪ ♪ All right, there's your basket.
It may even double as an umbrella.
- Can't get my bangs wet.
- [laughs] Right.
- Are you gonna come to the Lambstock with us?
- Jane and I are talking about it.
- He's put on the roster that I'm cooking.
- Oh, my!
So you're-- - So it's like-- I guess I have to cook for the whole group.
I'm always joking with Warren ab out the things he can't grow.
Like, his butterbean crop has been known to suffer; tomatoes are a struggle for him.
But peppers, it seems, he's figured out.
- Okay, now these-- - Oh, wow!
Look at these.
- These are shishitos and I mean, they just-- - Wow, I've never seen a red one.
So that's just because they've stayed out here so long?
- Now, is this gonna be really hot?
Watch it be hot as hell.
But it shouldn't be.
- It's got a lot more flavor than the green ones.
- Yeah, that's what I'm talking about.
But there is bunches of the red ones.
I mean, bunches of them.
- They're so prolific.
Look how many are on each-- - Yeah, you can just about fill up a basket on one plant.
- So Warren, did you grow up with peppers in the garden?
- Yeah, just mainly cayenne, because that's what everybody seasons collards with.
You know, that kinda thing.
- Oh, you put it in there.
I thought you put it in a jar with vinegar.
- Well, you can, and you can add that.
But a lot of people just put it right in the collards.
- What about bell peppers?
- Oh, yeah.
And the big thing was if you, you know, if you could get some big enough, you could stuff 'em with hamburger and rice and all that good stuff.
- But, you know, my experience has been, like, the-- I only see big bell peppers in the grocery store.
- I know.
- I was gonna make something with peppers for the Lambstock, but if I had to make it for 100 people, I would not be stuffing peppers.
- Right, no, no.
You probably won't.
- And, you know, Holley's grandmother is coming from Mississippi.
And she's gonna show me how she stuffs peppers.
- We had some on the grill the other night.
Dang, they were good.
- So at the beginning of the season, I got some shishitos from you and they lit me on fire!
- I know, I know.
- I was trying to explain to one of my cooks what a shishito was.
And I said, you know, one in 12 is hot.
And I ate one, and I was like, that one was hot.
I said, this next one's not gonna be hot.
And I ate it, and it was hotter than the first.
And I tried one more.
And I said, to hell with this, there's something wrong.
- There's something wrong.
Well, they came from across the pond and they were planted beside a row of jalapeños.
And they just crossed up.
That's why I think we're really lucky here they didn't cross with-- 'cause those are hotter than a jalapeño.
Those are anchos or poblanos or, you know, just a chili.
- You've got no idea what they are.
- They're chilies.
[acoustic guitar music] ♪ ♪ - So you grow cayenne, you grow the shishitos... - Right.
- Which, shishitos are a snacking pepper.
- I call 'em a frying pepper.
- A frying pepper.
So I'd char 'em in a pan and then put some lemon or lime juice and lots of salt on it.
But this is what I would call a shishito that you're used to seeing.
- Yeah, yeah.
Then you got chocolate.
- But that's just in between.
So it starts out here.
- Yeah, let's hold it.
Can we hold all three?
- And then it goes there.
And then it goes red.
- But the only shishitos you would see on the market would be these.
- You know, the idea that, like, many of the peppers we eat are green-- like green bell peppers.
Those would be the peppers that your mom would've stuffed and probably what Holley's grandmother is gonna wanna stuff.
- I think a green bell pepper tastes really unripe and it gives me lots of indigestion.
- And the red and orange-- - And the red and the orange don't.
So are we all just eating, like, unripe peppers?
- Well, heck, I tell me that you know, the pepper's trying to tell you when it turns red that it's ready to eat.
- Peppers are not something I've cooked with a whole lot over the years.
I didn't grow up eating them.
But the shishito is a pepper I discovered a few years ago and I'm mildly obsessed.
- We got plenty.
And I can sort of show you what my bell peppers look like, I think.
- Here we go.
Oh, that's fair size.
You could stuff that.
- For a few years, we stuffed some from you this size.
And people said, "How'd you get 'em so little?"
It's from Warren.
- From Warren.
- But most of the time, in a home garden, They are about this size.
- That's about what you get.
Mostly this time of year.
- So in addition to the shishitos I've picked, Can I get ten more pounds?
- Yeah, you can get it-- - And so I'm gonna want some for Lambstock.
[light guitar music] ♪ ♪ - What you got here?
- These are some peppers that I got from Warren.
So I had Hudson smoke 'em.
And then I'm gonna turn it into powder--chili powder.
- Oh, cool.
- It'll be pretty interesting if it works.
[laughs] ♪ ♪ So tomorrow, we are going to Lambstock.
Lambstock is this party that's put on by Craig Rogers.
He's the shepherd.
He raises lambs and he has this party every year with music and lots of lamb cookery on his farm and people camp out.
I don't camp out, which is one of the reasons I've never been.
I don't know.
Warren's going tomorrow, too.
- Yeah, I heard he's driving the RV.
- I've been persuaded to go this year because our friend Shirlette is performing.
And I'm making some lamb nachos.
And I'm making a little hot sauce with these little, tiny jalapeños.
And then in the end, I'm gonna pulse in a whole bunch of mint because it is a classic combination and almost cliché, but lamb and mint work really well together.
- You're not cooking a rack of lamb for Lambstock, you're gonna be using some ground-- - Yeah, I'm trying to make the star the peppers.
- And the peppers are gonna be the star.
- I don't know how Craig will feel about that.
I told him I was making nachos yesterday and there was this long silence at the other end of the line.
I don't know.
I think it'll be good.
♪ ♪ I do cook with peppers quite a bit.
Red bell peppers and yellow bell peppers, I love to roast.
Take the skin off and their flesh is useful in a ton of preparations.
One of them being pimento cheese.
And jalapeños are one of the ingredients that we have in our kitchen year-round.
So these are really small jalapeños.
And I can actually smell their heat.
I know that sounds kind of strange, but if you come into contact with some really hot peppers, often, like, you'll cough a little because they'll make you choke.
And I'm doing something that I should really never do.
I'm working with hot peppers and bare hands.
I've burned my eye and my cheek and even my arm by doing this before you-- you know, touching hot peppers and then touching your person.
But I'm a slow learner.
I'm not one of these people who eats hot stuff just for the sake of eating hot stuff.
Ben, on the other hand, will take a bite of a jalapeño just to see how much sweat accumulates at the top of his nose.
That's not me.
So when I'm making a hot sauce, I will probably try to balance the heat with something sweet.
And in this case, I have jalapeños balanced by sun gold cherry tomatoes.
So my hot sauce is cooked and the sun golds have burst and given up all their insides and the peppers are soft.
So now I'm gonna cool this down so that I don't introduce my fresh, vibrant tasting mint to this mixture.
It'll also help it stay vibrant green, hopefully.
And then we'll come back and blend it all together in some vinegar, after we make stuffed peppers with Holley's grandma.
[light music] ♪ ♪ Hello.
- How are you?
- Hello, I'm Shirley Webb.
- I'm Vivian Howard.
- Well, it's so nice to meet you.
I'm Holley's grandmother.
- I know-- I know, I know this girl.
The American South is a big place and my assistant-- my work wife, if you will-- Holley, is always reminding me of that.
She's from Mississippi.
So I love listening to Holley talk about the food of her family's table.
You know, about a year ago, I was working on my book and she said, well, my grandmother wrote a cook book.
And so she brought this to me and I was flipping through it.
Now, I love this picture of Holley with her crown.
[laughter] - That's some nice hair, right there, too.
- And look at those bangs.
- That is also extraordinary.
So y'all are from Mississippi.
- And we're gonna make stuffed banana peppers.
So this whole time, I thought we were gonna stuff big bell peppers.
- Bell peppers.
- But this looks more like-- almost like a-- what do you call it?
A chili rellen--relleno?
Gosh, y'all are gonna have to take that out.
Okay, so we can get this stuff out.
Holley did the shopping.
- Did she take the list with her?
- She actually sent someone else with the list.
Well, you know, I told her what the mark of a good leader is.
You learn to give authority to somebody.
- Delegate authority.
♪ ♪ First of all, you cut the top off.
Then cut out the seed and the membrane.
- Now, they're not hot, are they?
- No, no, no.
Now, you can get a hot banana, but this is a sweet banana.
- Has she told you what we're getting ready to do?
- Yes, going on that camping.
- Well, tomorrow, we're going camping.
But then in the fall, we're going on a food truck tour.
- For, like, nine weeks.
- Nine weeks?
I can't even really wrap my brain around it.
- Me either.
It doesn't just seem, like, real.
- It doesn't seem like it's going to actually happen.
- Okay, now we've got those done.
- So when that water begins to boil, we drop 'em in just long enough to-- what I call--blanch.
- You've got the right terminology.
♪ ♪ - So I can brown the hamburger meat?
- All right, so you're browning your ground beef.
- Browning the ground beef, now.
- And that's gonna go inside the pepper.
- But we've got to chop up, right quickly, the celery and the onion.
You might have to help chop, I'm not a chef.
I can't chop-chop-chop-chop.
- I can do that.
I'm your food processor.
- That's what I've asked you to 'cause I know you can chop.
- So we're gonna stuff the peppers with ground beef, celery, and onion.
- I salt this?
Probably about two spoons.
The black pepper.
And then we're going to add some cumin.
You want me to put this celery in there?
♪ ♪ So we have to make a little batter, too, right?
I use an egg and flour and milk.
♪ ♪ And I just do a handful.
Some things I don't measure.
I pinch and pinch.
- No, I read that in there.
So this is just gonna be, like, a really loose, kind of pancakey batter?
- You know, people always talk about Southern accents.
You have a different accent than I do.
- It's not only the accent, it's terminology.
- Yes, absolutely.
- We have phrases, you know.
- What's your phrase?
- Well, when I lived in Oklahoma, I was always picked out about saying, "I'm gonna carry Miss So-And-So to town."
- Yes, exactly.
I do that.
I remember I was in high school and I had a friend who lived in Greenville.
And I said, "I would love for you to come to my house.
My mom will carry you."
And she said, "I would hate for her to hurt her back."
♪ ♪ All right, so you've got your cheese mixed in with your hamburger.
And then you just begin to put it in your pepper and kinda pack it down gently, so you don't split your pepper.
- This is harder than it looks.
You have to really use this end of your spoon to get it down in there.
♪ ♪ Oh, yeah.
Now that looks good.
- This is the color that you're looking for.
- Mm-hmm, yeah.
- It's delicious.
- And we did get the hot peppers.
- That is a hot banana pepper.
- But I like hot peppers.
- I like it.
It works really good to have that heat with it in here.
- It does.
- I might put these in my next cook book.
- I'll give you credit.
[laughter] - Grandmother's peppers.
Thank you so much for coming all this way to do this.
It's been wonderful.
- Well, it was a pleasure.
And I'm just so glad to personally meet you.
- It's a pleasure to meet you.
I see where Holley gets all her composure.
[laughter] ♪ ♪ - Okay, are you around here right now or-- - Yeah, we're plating for the server meeting and then I'm gonna go do something in the back.
- You're making a stage appearance tonight?
- I'll maybe breathe heavily and blearily in the morning.
- What time?
- We're gonna be on the road by seven.
- All right, John, you wanna plate the new beef set?
Get it back here on the flat top where it's not too hot.
Four ounce scoop of the cornbread peeled pea cake.
- So the smoked beef rib's gonna have roasted pepper sauce.
And he says lima bean cornbread cake.
- Lima bean?
Should be butter bean.
I'll tell him that.
Bless his heart, he's from Ohio.
- So Brian is settling in and he's doing a really good job.
And everybody's getting used to him.
And Brian is getting used to us.
- Hey, guys.
So this is the new beef set.
Vivian and I had some ideas about this and I kinda helped to execute it.
But what we have here is the smoked beef rib.
We have a roasted pepper sauce, which has a lot of roasted peppers-- all different kinds.
We have bell peppers, Anaheims, jalapeños, shishitos.
Kinda cook that down, add a little red wine vinegar.
So it's real saucy and just wants to have something thin that can kinda sop it up.
For the sop, we have a cornbread and peeled pea cake with a bean salad on top.
It has some honey in it.
This was made with lima beans and peeled peas.
Anyway, y'all should eat it.
I think this is delicious.
So only one critique, Brian.
You gotta start calling those lima beans butter beans.
- [laughs] Okay.
- It's a good dish.
- It's great.
- It really is.
- All right, guys, if you've tasted it, let's go ahead and get rolling.
♪ ♪ All right, so my ingredients for my jalapeño mint hot sauce have chilled.
I'm gonna blend it with some salt and vinegar.
Vinegar's always an important component in hot sauce.
And it's one reason I really like cooking with hot sauce because it adds not only flavor, but acidity.
And then I'm gonna put lots and lots of fresh mint in there.
And hopefully it'll make this vibrant green and really minty.
Lambstock is kind of like a party for chefs and restaurant people.
For years, when I went to events with other chefs, I tended to cook food that I felt like would impress the other chefs.
But now-- probably because I'm old-- I like to cook food that I find satisfying, both to cook and to eat.
Hence, my nachos.
♪ ♪ I like the color.
I think that's nice.
It's really not very hot.
But that's okay.
What we're looking for an acidic component with some heat and some herbal quality.
All right, so I'm gonna pack this up.
And get my things together for tomorrow.
♪ Party, party ♪ ♪ ♪ [laughs] I'm scared.
[laughs] Did you bring the peppers?
- We did.
- I just wanna take a look.
I've never been on an RV, really.
- Oh, Vivy, you're gonna love it!
- Well, we've got plenty of peppers today.
- Yeah, we do.
Will that hold us?
- I think so.
- You think so?
We gonna find out when we get there.
- That's what I'm assuming.
[engine starts] [rock music] Hey, girls, y'all gotta check everything on the table.
Make sure nothing looks like it's gonna slide off.
- Oh, peppers, peppers!
[laughter] - This is your practice for your food truck.
- I can't believe this.
- Bon voyage!
[laughter] ♪ ♪ - I heard somewhere that the two best days of your life are the day you get your RV and the day you get rid of your RV.
I now understand why.
- Yeah, we had a flat.
How many miles out from Patrick Springs address?
Half an hour.
[mellow music] ♪ ♪ - Is that them?
This is my friend, Shirlette, who's performing.
We're gonna have to hitch a ride with them because this is no longer moving.
We broke down.
[laughs] We're just hoping to catch a ride.
Let's do it.
- All right.
- I needed those.
- Yeah, I didn't want you to forget them.
- Warren, I hate to leave y'all here on the side of the road.
- Don't feel bad.
The show must go on.
You gotta do what you gotta do.
- Well, y'all are gonna make it there.
- I'm gonna be chasing Jane all around that thing.
- [laughs] Whoo!
[upbeat rock music] I'm RV hopping and I'm on my way to Lambstock.
- Wow, this is beautiful.
- Hey, Craig.
- Welcome to our sheep pasture.
- Thank you, thank you.
It looks awesome.
- It's kinda curious.
- You just sorta open the farm gates and this is what happens when you have lovely friends.
- Yeah, I'm excited.
♪ ♪ What do you got in there?
Looks like something tongueish.
- Tongues, yes.
- What are you doing with it?
- It's a bene puree with some grilled shishitos and-- - Oh, look, they're all shishitos.
- I know, right?
- And yours are beautiful.
You got all kinds of different colors.
Mine are all green.
- Have you ever had, like, a red one that's-- - Uh-uh.
It's so, like-- we're missing the boat by not, like, letting them, like, color.
- Letting them ripen all the way.
- Take a guess at what this is.
She's a musician, not a cook.
And what has to happen-- actually, you might wanna help do this - What's this?
- Once they cool down a little bit, we're gonna peel them.
- So it's like a natural casing?
- Sure, yeah.
It's just what you have on your tongue.
It would be the same way.
- Oh, I don't have that on my tongue.
- Oh, yeah.
[laughter] - So is there a good starting point?
- Yeah, just--I kinda attack it from the side and try to just get in there.
- Like--oh, right here.
Don't be afraid to, like, push into it.
- I am.
I'm a bit scared.
I'ma keep it real.
- You gotta manhandle it a little bit.
- Oh, so it's all that?
- Oh, look.
- It's really satisfying.
- It is.
- So you might just give up that whole singing thing and just start being a tongue peeler.
- I got a new job.
I got a new gig.
I've been called.
I found my calling.
- So what are you doing with these shishitos?
- So I'm gonna blister them on this cowboy cauldron over here.
We're gonna try and get it really hot.
And then they're gonna be a major component in these nachos that we're doing.
These are gonna be layered in between.
They'll get hit with some lemon juice and salt.
The whole thing will be finished with this jalapeño hot sauce that we made.
- You know, when you see a red pepper, you automatically think it's gonna be spicy.
But I know that, you know, one out of ten is gonna be.
And I've never had a spicy shishito.
But I'm waiting for the day that one of these in this basket may be-- - It's gonna light you on fire.
♪ ♪ Let me give you a tip.
Take your peppers and put them on a hot grill.
It's simple and transformational.
- And you have these chefs who have worked all day to prepare our food.
And I think you're gonna begin with some lamb nachos by my dear friend Vivian Howard.
And we're going to begin the celebration as everyone always should, with a little sabrage in the sheep pasture.
[cheering] [dinner bell dinging] - Nacho science is as follows: you need to start with a bangin' chip.
Do not start with a crappy chip.
Saucy meat, if possible.
I've got that.
And something cool and creamy.
You can add other stuff, but those five components are required for quality, chef approved Lambstock blue ribbon nachos.
- Got some blistered shishito and lamb belly nachos for you here.
- They're shishito peppers and they're mild.
So they're not hot at all.
- Hey, Miss Jane, how are you?
- Hey, Casey.
- This is lamb belly and charred shishito.
Make sure you get some of the good stuff, there.
- I know.
I'm not calling on you, Warren.
You had a bad enough day.
- It wasn't that bad, really.
It was just hot.
It's been one heck of a day.
I woke up in Deep Run, broke down in an RV, cooked in a sheep pasture and now I get to watch my friend perform.
♪ ♪ - Yeah!
♪ They say we asking for it ♪ ♪ As if they know our story ♪ - For more information on "A Chef's Life" visit pbs.org/food.
- ♪ They say we savage, foreign, sorta ♪ ♪ Border list boring nomads who like the core ♪ ♪ Refuse to use and see me snoring ♪