Hill, Howard honored for dedication to making Kinston a travel destination
Vivian Howard was the recipient of the Esse Quam Videri Award by Visit North Carolina for her work in making Kinston a destination to visit. Submitted photo
A pair of local leaders were recently honored by Visit North Carolina.
The organization awarded Stephen Hill and Vivian Howard as winners of its first Esse Quam Videri Award for their leadership in developing Kinston as a destination for leisurely travel. The awards were presented at the annual Visit NC 365 Conference at the Wilmington Convention Center Monday.
The Esse Quam Videri award, which takes its name from the state motto “to be, rather than to seem,” celebrates Hill's and Howard's dedication to bettering their community by freely giving their time, energy and resources for a greater good.
Hill has built shining examples of what he advocates: the arts, historic preservation and downtown revitalization. A Kinston native who attended Appalachian State University, Hill and son-in-law Trent Mooring opened a craft brewery in 2009 and called it Mother Earth to reflect their commitment to environmental sustainability.
The brewery, the first in the nation to earn LEED Gold status, now shares its name with a distillery and reimagined motor lodge.
Hill's contributions to Kinston's appeal also include The O'Neil boutique hotel and the Red Room nightclub along with his work as founder and board chair for the smART Kinston Foundation, the organization behind signature public art installations and a revitalized 12-block area as the city's Arts & Culture District. Hill currently serves as chairman of the N.C. Arts Council.
Howard, a farmer's daughter who grew up in the Deep Run community, is known by food lovers nationwide for the PBS series "A Chef's Life,” which aired from 2013-18. The series focused on the Eastern North Carolina ingredients and traditions at the heart of Chef and the Farmer, the Kinston restaurant she opened with husband Ben Knight in 2006.
The series earned a 2014 Peabody Award, a 2015 Daytime Emmy and the 2016 James Beard Award for Outstanding Personality/Host. It also whet travelers' appetites for a taste of Kinston.
Chef and the Farmer marked Howard's homecoming from New York, where she moved after graduating from N.C. State. She and Knight opened the Boiler Room in Kinston in 2013 and Benny's Big Time Pizzeria in Wilmington in 2017. Howard's memoir/cookbook, "Deep Run Roots: Stories and Recipes from My Corner of the South," was published in 2016.