[gentle music] - Beans are a big subject.
On the one side, you have things like navy beans, cannellini beans, and lima beans.
On the other side, you have something we call string beans, green beans, or snap beans.
That's when you eat the pod and the immature, little tiny bean inside.
Those are what we're talking about right now.
♪ ♪ - 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 in the house I grew up in.
and exploring the south one ingredient at a time.
♪ ♪ Previously on "A Chef's Life."
All right, so today is Chef & the Farmer's 10 year anniversary.
- I feel like this is th e first event we've ever done.
- They had to lean on each other because they were all they had.
I think that's the making of a wonderful marriage sometimes.
When you just really lean on each other.
- You know what that means.
We're not kissing.
[laughter and applause] [birds chirping] [gentle music] ♪ ♪ [indistinct chatter] - Hey, Vivian.
- How are you?
- We have tired real hard.
- Oh, I know.
I am--you know what?
It's Mother Nature.
Nobody cares if Vivian wants string beans.
Mother Nature does not.
- [laughs] - You look pretty this morning.
- Oh, my God.
Look at my hair.
[both laugh] - Look at my hair.
Well, thank you for trying.
- Oh, you're welcome.
- I hope y'all have a good week and that we continue to get some rain.
- Okay, pray for that.
- That's gonna bring our beans on.
[both laugh] - Just because I want green beans and because I plan on green beans, does not mean that Mother Nature had the same plan, and she is in control.
[laughing] Green beans.
Look how many we have.
Okay, so we've had this little drought, and all of Miss Tessie Mae's rattlesnake beans are gone.
- Got it.
- So we've got some string beans, I think, from the Piggly Wiggly.
So what we're gonna do, you're gonna work on the new grit dish... - Okay.
- And it's gonna be, like, pimento cheese grits and then it's gonna be served with this green bean salsa.
Cut the beans like this... - Okay.
- Blanch them in boiling salted water, which I have going right there.
So then I'm gonna work on a green bean and cantaloupe salad.
So if you'll just take the grit portion of things and I'll do this.
[soft music] ♪ ♪ - Because we have so few things that are green on our menu in the middle of summer, it's important that the things we do have that are green, show up really green.
So by blanching the green beans for about 30 seconds to a minute in boiling salted water, and then shocking them in ice water, it makes them greener than they were to begin with.
It's kind of like a trick.
See how blanching and shocking them made them, like, an even more vibrant green.
♪ ♪ I've decided that I'm gonna do a green bean almondine salad.
And, you know, actually, there's a classic French dish that's green beans with almonds and lemon juice.
So I'm gonna make a little pesto, and that's gonna serve as, like, the base for my dressing.
Did you wanna watch me make this pesto?
Wanna watch me whip?
[both laughing] - That's great.
- But, like, three years behind the times.
- It's all right.
- All right, so what I've got in the food processor are Parmesan, orange zest, some toasted almonds.
I know it's not a new technique or--or something that people don't know, but it's really important to toast your nuts.
[laughing] Sorry, this is just going downhill.
It brings out their flavor.
[chuckles] [mellow music] ♪ ♪ Generally, when you think about pesto, you think about basil, pine nuts, Parmesan, olive oil, all blended up or pounded in a mortar and pestle, but the word pesto literally means to pound, so instead of incorporating the herbs, I'm focusing just on the almond and orange flavor in my pesto.
So I've got ground almonds, orange zest, orange juice, a little bit of cheese, and olive oil.
♪ ♪ Mm, that's tasty.
If nothing else, over the years, I've become very good at improvising.
I have walked in today with the plan to make a green bean salad and instead I'm making a fruit salad with green beans as a garnish.
This type of thing happens all the time in kitchens all across America.
♪ ♪ This is actually way... tastier than I thought it would be.
I'm trying to decide which fruit I like best with the flavor of the string bean.
The string bean is here, kind of, like, the neutral element, and then I put bacon 'cause it really needed, like, a savory crunch.
I think I like the cantaloupe/peach better than the watermelon with it.
Though the watermelon... is the prettiest.
And now I know what I need to do.
♪ ♪ - Hello.
- Are you ready?
- I'm ready.
[both laugh] Hey, how are you?
You don't have to get up.
Well, it's good to see you.
- It's great to see you.
It's good to be back in Pleasant Hill.
- Can we go see your beans?
- Yes, mm-hmm.
- Now don't expect the best 'cause it's been dry weather.
- I know.
- But we've got some and we'll go see what we got.
[beeps] - So this is how you get around in the yard?
I'm doing great.
You know, I think to be 81 years old.
[gentle music] Miss Tessie Mae Robinson and her husband, E.D., were our first neighbors when we moved from New York to eastern North Carolina about 11 years ago.
She has been a fixture at Lenoir County Farmer's Market for decades, and she's particularly known for her rattlesnake beans.
Tell me about-- why are they called rattlesnake?
Because of the markings on 'em?
- Because of the streaks on 'em, you know.
- But now, when you cook them, the streaks go away, right?
- They go away.
- These are pole beans?
- They are pole beans.
- So there's pole beans and there's bush beans... - Mm-hmm.
- Then we've got butter beans.
- The butter beans, they're beans, they're just shaped different.
- They're shelling beans.
- So can we ride in there and see?
- Sure we can.
- I know you wouldn't dare eat these raw, but they're pretty tasty like that.
- Well, some people probably would.
- [laughs] - I wouldn't.
[both laugh] Hold on.
[both laugh] ♪ ♪ I can take the golf cart and I can drive real slow, I can pick the beans.
- Mm-hmm, that's what I do.
I can't take my foot-- you can get down.
♪ ♪ - And so these are rattlesnake beans, but you would also call them string beans.
- Oh, yeah, oh, they're definitely string beans.
And sometimes, when you say rattlesnakes, if the name is rattlesnake string beans, "I don't wanna have nothing to do with 'em, you know."
- [laughs] - And they'll go on, you know, but a majority of the people, that's what they're looking for.
- So when you're riding through here, what's the size that you're looking for?
- These, but they don't want the great big ones.
You know, like, this.
They really don't want them.
- No, because the, um--the actual-- I guess this is the pod, it's kind of-- - Mm-hmm, it's tough.
- So you don't really want that.
You pick 'em every day.
I've always done it.
I've always done it.
I love it.
You just love a garden, and I do.
I just love to see it grow, and whenever I'm out here, I can talk to God.
I can meditate, you know, and just--it was just special.
- Just special.
- Well, it's great to have something that you love that much.
♪ ♪ I want you to show me everything you know... - Okay.
- About the beans.
- I would come in here to wash 'em real good.
- On their own, green beans or string beans don't bring a ton of flavor to dishes.
They bring color and texture and kind of a mild vegetal flavor.
That is, unless you stew them for an hour or two in a porky, porky, porky broth, which is the way I grew up eating them, and really the way I prefer them even now.
These are not al dente haricot vert from France.
These are country-style pole beans from eastern North Carolina.
- Do 'em just like this.
♪ ♪ Sometimes they got a string in 'em.
Like this, and it'll pull the string out.
♪ ♪ - It's very satisfying when you get a string that goes all the-- the whole way.
And you can put bacon in the pot, but we've just always been used to pickled pork.
- Oh, what--is that what we're gonna use?
- That's--that's what we're gonna use.
- Now tell me what pickled pork is.
- When you cut your hog up, you leave your ribs in some of the fat, and you cut it in pieces about like that.
- And then you got to put it in the pork barrel, put you some salt in there, and keep making your-- a ring till you get to the top.
And then you take a egg that's in the shell... - In the shell, okay.
- And put it in a pot in, um--in, um, a little pan, and put you some water in it, and put you some salt in that, put your egg in there, and when your egg floats to the top, the juice is strong enough to preserve your pork meat.
- Can we get our piece out for our pot?
- Yeah, yeah, sure.
- [exclaims softly] - Mm-hmm.
Now that is exciting to me.
- [laughs] ♪ ♪ - So this is the smoke house?
- This is what you call the smokehouse.
- You can smell it.
[both laugh] Oh, wow, look at those hams.
- They're molded, but all you gotta do is wipe 'em off.
This is your pork barrel... ♪ ♪ And this is what you call pickled pork.
- Wow, that's awesome.
- [chuckles] - So this has been in there since February or January?
- Uh-huh, February, and you can take it, like you cook in your corn, if you can get you a real fat piece, that don't have no lean in it, and slice it real thin and put it in a biscuit pan and put it in the oven.
And you don't want nothing no better.
- It is really delicious.
- Then do you weight down the pork in there or anything?
- No, no, you've already got it packed in their tight.
- In other words, there's several layers in there.
- So a layer and then salt, and a layer and then salt, and then you make that brine... - Uh-huh.
- And pour it over it?
- That's right.
♪ ♪ Now, you wash this in hot water.
- You know, I just wrote this cookbook, Miss Tessie, and there's a little chapter on seasoning meat... - Uh-huh - And I wrote all this stuff about 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] What's this note up here?
Is this one of your love notes?
♪ ♪ - That's the last one of them.
- Do you make it out to "Baby"?
- I always call him "Baby."
Unless I get-- - Unless you get mad.
[both laugh] How long have y'all been married?
- 64 years.
- Oh, my word.
- 64 years May the 24th.
Now we're gonna set it up here.
- Do you use a pressure cooker a lot?
Only for my meat.
- So you would let this-- this meat cook in the water for 20 minutes?
- Oh, yeah.
If it's on pressure pot, you just let 'em boil.
- Do you cover it?
- Just bring it up to a boil?
- And how long do you let 'em cook?
- Probably about 40 minutes.
- That kind of cooks down.
- It cooks down sort of to a gravy just like this right there.
- That looks delicious.
E.D., are you gonna come in here and eat with us?
- Yes, he's coming to eat.
- I know you been quiet as long as you can.
- Come on, Baby.
- Should I ring the dinner bell?
[both laugh] ♪ ♪ - And we're thankful, dear Lord, for the rain that the farm has received, and I pray that you bless this food.
[indistinct chatter] ♪ ♪ - I consider myself pretty well versed in the pork canon, but never in my days have I had the opportunity to cook with pickled pork.
Had I known this was in my backyard all those years ago, I would have been knocking on Tessie Mae's door all the time.
♪ ♪ I just really struggle with the name of this one.
What would you call it?
It's a little salad.
I had intended it to be about the green beans, but I don't have enough green beans.
It's more fruit and the green beans are part of, like, the texture.
Maybe just the Summer Salad, and then you can put in whate-- - That's a good idea.
I'll bring you a copy.
- Awesome, thank you.
- Thank you.
[indistinct chatter] - I tell you, I've really struggled with this green bean situation.
- I think what you got looks really pretty.
I haven't tried it.
It looked really good.
- It looks pretty.
Yeah, no, it's good, and I'm just, like, hyper freaky.
- Hyper freakin'?
♪ ♪ - So I'm baking a little salsa for the pimento cheese grits.
So we're gonna do the green beans and tomatoes, these pickled red onions for some acidity, I'm gonna put cilantro in there, lime zest.
♪ ♪ When people think about salsa, they're generally thinking about Mexican salsa that at its core is tomatoes, onions, and hot peppers, but in my kitchen, we have a much looser definition of salsa.
I consider it a condiment that is bright, fresh, and texturally right.
In this case, I've got a green bean salsa that sits on top of baked pimento cheese grits.
The salsa acts as a foil for the rich grits.
♪ ♪ Behind you.
Josh, this is your salsa for your grits.
Bryan's gonna have the pork rinds on expo.
Okay, so we'll pick on up together in about ten minutes.
- Bryan, I'm gonna do the salad back here for at least the first part 'cause I just need to get it streamlined.
- Yep, yeah.
- How it's gonna be plated.
- I'm gonna plate up the sauce.
I think a chef de cuisine is something I'm getting used to.
- Uh, everybody, this is a announcement.
Uh, today Bob called out sick at--with basically no notice.
Puts us in a really bad position.
The same thing happened two weeks ago during the big 10-year party with another guy.
I won't mention his name.
[laughter] - But we're still mad at him.
- We're still mad at him.
- You know, the fact is when people come to Chef and the Farmer, they wanna eat my food.
At least they think they do.
And when you hire a chef de cuisine, you're trying to hire the most qualified person you can, and those highly qualified individuals like Bryan wanna make their own food.
He doesn't wanna cook my food forever.
So it's complicated.
I don't wanna step on Bryan's toes, but I do want to contribute.
♪ ♪ Just put your grits in there.
You just peel one side off.
♪ ♪ And that'll allow it to get, you know, really nice and brown and bubbly on top.
So just slide that in there.
Okay, while that heats up, I'm gonna run and tell them about this salad.
♪ ♪ - You ready?
- We only got a few minutes.
- I know, I know.
All right, so we've got a few new things to talk about tonight.
One is this-- I'm calling it a Summer Salad 'cause I had a really hard time figuring out what to call it.
On the bottom of the plate is an almond pesto, and then we have cantaloupe and peaches and then that is all finished with some really lightly blanched string beans that are tossed in lemon juice, olive oil, and almonds, and then I finished it all with some of our house-made bacon, and mint.
What's nice about the salad and what's kind of surprising to me is that the green beans end up providing, like, a really nice texture.
So think of them in that way.
They're kind of the base note.
You know, they're not the bright note or the umami note, they're they base textural note.
We also have a new grit that are baked with a big, fat layer of pimento cheese on top, and it's gonna get finished with a green bean salsa.
Tonight and moving forward, we're gonna serve it with our big pork cracklins for dipping.
You know, when we started doing these grit dishes, the idea was to use grits as a canvas to kind of express all the elements of taste, and so that's where this salsa comes in because it's got a really crunchy texture, and really bright flavors, so I encourage people to think of this as, like, chips and dip and this is kind of like a cheesy dip with a salsa and then these are kind of like your chips.
Y'all try these 'cause I know we're running behind.
- If you guys have more questions take 'em to the back.
we got four minutes till we open.
Make sure that you have all your questions answered on the food.
You're gonna have to do some work here on the side as we're opening.
- New stuff, and we have to learn that bam, bam, bam, in, like, ten minutes.
[country music] ♪ ♪ - Perfect.
Okay, let's begin there.
- Let's try it.
- All right, sounds good.
Thank you very much.
♪ ♪ - Fire up the grits.
♪ ♪ - Does that look good to you?
I would maybe put one cracklin on the dish.
♪ ♪ - Grits, and then take your pork rinds, and either dip 'em-- I sort of like to just sort of crunch mine on top for a little texture, so that really adds your little pop to your dish.
all: Thank you.
- I know our staff gets annoyed with me when I tell them how to tell their diners how to eat my food, but sometimes you need some instructions.
I gotta get a plate of salad.
♪ ♪ - Oh, there it is.
- I think the salad's a little big right now.
I'm gonna make it smaller.
[indistinct chatter] - Pardon me, guys.
- All right.
What's the first bite?
- [chuckles] I'll do melon.
Have some of the hot bacon.
- Order fire Summer Salad.
That's four all day, please.
- Summer Salad order fired.
- Order fire Summer Salad.
[soft music] Oh.
Tonight proves that I am out of practice.
Cooking in a restaurant is no t exactly like riding a bike.
You just don't get on do it as well as you did the last time.
It does take practice.
Practice builds up your stamina, and my stamina is gone.
It's hard being... A cook and being brilliant on television.
[both laugh] ♪ ♪ Okay, I've never made baked beans before, so... - You've never made 'em before?
- You have maple syrup in there?
- I have brown sugar.
- No maple syrup?
- No maple syrup, no.
- You just--you monitor that.
- No, I put brown sugar.
I've made baked beans a couple times.
- Well, if-- you just go do the chicken.
[gentle music] ♪ ♪ - So we are going to attempt to have a July Fourth celebration in my backyard, and Ben is cooking chickens on a spit, which he's never done before, but he wants to tell me how to bake beans.
And we've got, like, 400 water balloons, and we're gonna have co rn on the cob and watermelon, string beans from Miss Tessie, tomato sandwiches, and a blueberry peach cobbler, so it's very American.
[splash] - Whoo!
- [laughs] - [laughs] Whoo, that was good, Theo.
[children laughing and shouting] ♪ ♪ Ooh, yeah, and we're gonna have a whole lot of fireworks, so...
I'm looking forward to that.
I hope it doesn't rain.
[thunder rumbling] ♪ ♪ And it rained, but I don't really care.
The whole point of today was to spend time with my family.
I am in this mode where I'm trying to squirrel away all of this quality family time because... in a couple weeks, I'm gonna be on the road for a long, long, long time.
♪ ♪ - For more information on "A Chef's Life" visit pb s.org/food.
♪ ♪ "A Chef's Life" is available on DVD.