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.
“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 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.”
"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’s modern farmhouse (above) has a deck that’s perfect for an alfresco supper.
Theo’s signature hat comes in handy when he does his impression of Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal.”
Chicken Tacos with Apple Salsa & Guac
Try Vivian's Chicken Tacos with Apple Salsa & Guac
Cheesy Rice & Broccoli
"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."
Try Vivian's Cheesy Rice & Broccoli