Vivian Howard

James Beard Award is similar to the Academy Awards, but for the best chefs and bakers in America.
jamesbeard.org

  From bakeries and dives to fine dining and drive-ins, North Carolina restaurants consistently top foodies' "best-of" lists.  So it was no surprise to many in the Tar Heel culinary scene when the state's chefs and bakers were on the James Beard Foundation's semifinalist list. 

The Foundation announced the the semifinalists Wednesday at a news conference in Chicago. Nine North Carolinians made the list in two categories - Best Chef: Southeast and Outstanding Baker.

Producer Hady Mawajdeh fulling around behind the mic.
Carol Jackson

As the year draws to a close, The State of Things staff take a look back at some of their favorite segments of 2014. 

Vivian Howard in the WUNC studios with engineer Robin Copley.
Hady Mawajdeh

Vivian Howard originally made a name for herself in the Manhattan restaurant world by starting as an onion peeler and working her way up to chef. 

Chef Vivian Howard accepted a Peabody Award for the PBS series 'A Chef's Life'.
Cherry Bombe Magazine / via Twitter

North Carolina chef accepted a prestigious award last night for a TV series that chronicles her life and her cooking.   Vivian Howard is co-owner of  "Chef and the Farmer," a fine dining restaurant in Kinston, N.C.  She and the television crew that makes the series "A Chef's Life" accepted one of broadcasting's highest honors, a Peabody Award, in New York. 

Howard says the journey to being accepted by the Kinston community was a long one.

"It really took a while for them to warm up," says Howard.