6 Questions for ACL’s Coordinator of Chaos, Holley Pearce


It’s very likely that you’ve seen Holley Pearce lurking in the background on any given episode of A CHEF’S LIFE. Holley, a Mississippi native and Kinston transplant, has served as Chef Vivian’s personal ‘coordinator of chaos’ since August 2015. She basically has Chef Vivian’s schedule memorized, and imposes some sense of normalcy in the roster of festivals, appearances, and food demos that are growing as a result of the show’s (and Chef Vivian’s) popularity. We forced Holley into the light to find out more about the elusive woman who plays tetris with Chef Vivian’s calendar.

Q: Tell us all the interesting tidbits about yourself.
I’m pretty sure that I’m the only woman on the team who’s not from North Carolina. I grew up in north Mississippi horseback riding and enjoying the outdoors. I left Mississippi when I was 20 years old and moved to Scottsdale, Arizona, then New Orleans, and then Tuscaloosa before moving to Kinston. When I first got down here, the biggest thing on the social calendar was the grand opening of Piggly Wiggly. Although I was a big fan of the show before I moved here, I had no idea why I was in Kinston. Now, I’ve found my niche. I also like playing golf and Vivian and I just started taking tennis lessons.

Q: How would you describe your role on the show?
I would say “coordinator of chaos, creator of some,” is most accurate. I basically handle Vivian’s itinerary. I get all the fan mail and appearance requests, I negotiate fees and arrangements and try to scale things down as much as I can so that it’s not super stressful for Vivian. Since it is sometimes necessary for us to travel with food, I have the important and unique role of arranging all the nuances of that. Like for instance, we had a cooking demo in Charleston and could only find the air-dried sausage Vivian needed for the recipe in Kinston. We called every Piggly Wiggly on our route-- nothing. We ended up having to overnight it from Kinston. A lot of times we ship food ahead of time to avoid these types of situations.

I’ve seen old ladies shove each other to get to Vivian, so, I’m also kind of like her personal bodyguard. There are people that we always see at events, people who love Chef.

Q: What’s the most important way your role has changed as the show grows in success?
The biggest change in my role over the past year and a half is, now I have an official job description that includes the phrase, “anything that makes Vivian’s life easier.” Vivian trusts me more, which means a lot to me.

Q: Can you tell us the story of how you got your job as “coordinator of chaos?”
I was drinking dirty martinis at the bar at Chef and the Farmer. I saw Ben and I said, “Hey, I heard Vivian got a book deal. If she ever needs an assistant, I’d love to apply.” The next day, I got a call asking me to come in. I was moving into my apartment at the time, so I asked if it would be okay if I wasn’t dressed appropriately. They said, “no problem.” Shortly after, I got a call back asking me to dress nice from the waist up, because they were gonna videotape the interview. So, I sat down and had an interview with Vivian, but I never heard anything back. I knew that Vivian dropped her kids off at daycare every morning at 9am, so I would call her every morning at 9am and ask if she needed anything and she would say, ‘No. I’m fine.’ I imagine she thought I was a crazy person. Eventually, though, she said yes.

Q: What's your favorite episode of A CHEF'S LIFE?
The Christmas Special. I just think it’s TV that people need to see. It lets the audience understand the not-so-glamorous parts of where our food comes from. We also get to spend time with Miss Lillie and shoot mistletoe out of the tree, which I grew up doing. That episode is great, especially if you’re away from family over the holidays.

Q: If you were stranded on a deserted island (or just outside of Kinston) with only one food item and one utensil, what would they be?
If I was stranded somewhere, I would want roasted beets. I just started eating them in the past year and I could eat them every day. I would choose a swiss army knife as my utensil because you never know what’s gonna go down on a deserted island or in “K-Hole.”

Follow Holley on Twitter @HaHa4you