What's fast, family friendly, and super fun? Chef Vivian Howard shows us how she and her kiddos do taco night.

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vivian howard kids cooking
To make cooking fun for her six-year-old twins, Theo and Flo, Vivian gives them jobs that are quick and hands-on. One great option: scooping out avocados and smashing them into guac.  
| Credit: Photography by Jillian Clark

Chef Vivian Howard—star of the award-winning PBS show A Chef's Life, author of a best-selling cookbook, and chef-owner of three restaurants in North Carolina (including Benny's Big Time Pizzeria in Wilmington)—is one busy lady. But when she cooks at home with Theo and Flo, her six-year-old twins, everything slows right down. 

vivian howard daughter cooking
Credit: Photography by Jillian Clark

"This is a special time," she says. "It's a way to share what I do with them." One of their favorite things to make together is tacos, a dish that lets the kids choose their combos and also includes one of Theo and Flo's favorite tasks: charring tortillas over a gas flame. "They feel like they're really cooking, and it takes only five good seconds," says Vivian. "It's instant gratification." 

vivian howard kids
The kids grab the opportunity to sit on the counter when a photographer visits.
| Credit: Photography by Jillian Clark

Vivian hopes that the immediate payoff leads to something more lasting. "Cooking may be the most rewarding lifelong hobby anyone can have," she says. "I want to establish that love in my children."

chicken tacos
Credit: Photography by Jillian Clark

"We make tacos often, and I lay out everything in advance," says Vivian. "The kids can put whatever they want on them. I just required that they choose more than cheese."

vivian howard farm house
Credit: Photography by Jillian Clark

Vivian's modern farmhouse (above) has a deck that's perfect for an alfresco supper.    

vivian howard kids tacos deck
Credit: Photography by Jillian Clark
vivian howard son tacos
Credit: Photography by Jillian Clark

Theo's signature hat comes in handy when he does his impression of Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal." 

Chicken Tacos with Apple Salsa & Guac

chicken tacos with apple salsa guac
Credit: Photography by Jillian Clark

Cheesy Rice & Broccoli

cheesy rice broccoli
Credit: Photography by Jillian Clark

"My kids love mac and cheese and risotto," says Vivian. "The cheesy rice is a way to give them what they like, while also getting some broccoli into their diet."