Practice English Speaking&Listening with: What People Probably Never Knew About Carla Hall

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Fans first met celebrity chef Carla Hall on Top Chef, and then The Chew.

But even after 1,500 episodes of The Chew, there's still plenty for fans to learn about

Hall, so keep watching to learn the untold truth of this fascinating celebrity chef.

Before becoming a professional chef and then TV personality, Carla Hall was working as

an accountant and part-time model.

In an interview with the Institute of Culinary Education's blog Diced, Hall admitted to hating

her accounting job.

When some models she knew planned a trip to Paris, she decided to tag along.

Hall liked the City of Lights so much that she wound up living there for a few years,

and it's where her interest in food took flight.

She explained:

"I started cooking for the people I was staying with and buying cookbooks."

When she returned stateside, Hall launched a small catering business, as she put it,

"really as a fluke."

However, that "fluke" began taking off over the next few years, and its success led Hall

to a crossroads.

She knew if she was going to pursue a future in food, it was time to go all in.

At age 30, Hall decided to take it to the next level by enrolling in culinary school,

and said:

"I felt I had the practical training from my own business but I wanted the theory and

the classical training.

I knew I needed culinary school for that."

"I wanna be Top Chef, I wanna prove that caterers are just as good as these restaurant chefs."

Appearing on Top Chef was instrumental in transforming Hall from an anonymous chef into

a celebrity, particularly when she returned for the all-stars season.

However, if she had listened to the advice she was given, she never would have come back

for season eight.

In an interview with Bravo's Starving for Attention podcast, Hall told hosts Richard

and Jazmin Blais:

"My PR agency said, 'You really shouldn't do Top Chef because you don't know what's

going to happen, plus you're trying to really break away into your own brand.'"

She opted to ignore that advice, and only later began to second-guess herself when she

realized the potential downside.

Hall explained:

"And then you don't want to be the first one kicked off.

You're like, 'Was the first season, for me season five, a fluke?'

Making it to the final...Then you feel like, 'I'm the old one, and I'm a caterer, and I'm

not in that restaurant world of everyone else.'

You're underestimated."

"My challenge this time around is to cook from my heart, and I'm not going to be intimidated

by someone else's food.

Not gonna do it, not gonna do it."

While Hall has admitted she doesn't consider herself to be a celebrity chef, that is how

she's considered these days.

But long before the television fame, she paid her dues in the culinary arts, and not all

of those jobs were great ones.

In fact, she considers one job to be the worst she's ever held in the food industry, and

it's one that many aspiring chefs would be thrilled to have.

She revealed in an interview with Tasting Table:

"I worked in the Bahamas as a private chef.

It is not as glamorous as you'd think.

It got to a point where I just wanted to fire the client and go home, and that was really

tough."

As Hall recalled, she was the only chef on duty.

"I had to cook every day for 14 people, three meals a day.

I didn't have any support, so I'd finish one meal and have to go right into the next.

I literally worked an 18-hour day, passed out and got up to do it over again."

In 2017, Hall's co-host on The Chew, Mario Batali, was hit with allegations of sexual

assault, which ultimately caused him to divest himself from the restaurant empire he co-owned

with Joe Bastianch, and led ABC to fire him from the show.

When asked about Batali in an interview with the Raleigh News & Observer, Hall was diplomatic,

saying:

"I didn't have those experiences.

He was generous with his knowledge of the industry...I feel for the women who had to

go through that.

I believe them.

It's tough, when you know the person in a different environment."

A few months after Batali's firing, in May 2018, ABC made the decision to cancel The

Chew, though the network didn't relate the cancelling to Batali.

"Most of you might have heard, some of you might not have, but The Chew has not been

picked up for an eighth season, so this, our seventh season, is our last."

At the time, Hall told People that she had kept touch with her former co-host.

She said:

"He's doing all the good work that he was doing before, and being reflective.

He's such a good guy and all the other work that he's done.

He says he's working on stuff, you know, as we all are.

No one is perfect.

We have challenges."

When ABC canceled The Chew after seven seasons, Hall was able to reflect on the experience.

Admitting she, quote, "felt snarky" when the show was first cancelled, Hall told The Kitchn:

"There was disbelief and sadness, and then there was this moment of Okay, so what's next?"

She decided to take the next year to, quote, "play," in hopes of understanding what she

was meant to take from the experience on the show.

She admitted:

"I probably would have never left that job unless I got fired or it ended.

Now I'm taking advantage of all the things that I learned and using it elsewhere."

As Hall explained, the biggest end result of all those years on The Chew is this:

"I know how to do food television.

There was a time when I didn't and I wasn't comfortable with it.

I think that how to multitask on television, where you're talking to someone, cooking,

and doing so many other things, my interviewing skills have gotten better.

Just being relaxed."

In October 2018, Hall published her first cookbook, a tribute to her Southern heritage

titled Carla Hall's Soul Food: Everyday and Celebration.

In an interview with Atlanta Magazine, Hall said that the idea for a soul food cookbook

came to her after she received the results of a DNA test revealing her ancestors came

from West Africa.

She shared:

"I started thinking, 'If my ancestors came from West Africa today, how would they be

eating?'"

Given her declaration that Southern soul food is, quote, "part of my DNA," she set out on

a mission of, quote, "reclaiming" soul food by creating healthier versions of some of

the familiar favorites that she grew up with.

She told People:

"I think soul food is unfairly judged because people are looking at it through a very narrow

lens."

"It is so entrenched and enmeshed in American food or Southern food, that soul food itself

doesn't really get its proper place."

She pointed out that when people think of soul food, what they're really considering

are celebration foods, like mac and cheese and fried chicken, adding that, quote, "nobody

ate like that every day."

Hall is known for her ready smile and sunny disposition, but, like anyone, she can become

annoyed.

That is particularly true in the kitchen, and she revealed her biggest culinary pet

peeve with PopSugar, griping:

"My biggest cooking pet peeve is when people think to add bacon to everything, to add truffles

to everything."

"I'm obsessed with truffle."

The way she sees it, when chefs feel the need to add intense flavors like these to their

dishes in an attempt to elevate their food, what actually happens is that it often ends

up masking a weak cooking technique.

Hall explained:

"When people don't taste or when they're not connected to their food, I think it's style

over substance.

It makes it sound fancy, but I think people don't appreciate simple food sometimes."

She shared another of her pet peeves with the Washington Post: old-school TV cooking

shows that pretend, quote, "nobody messes up" in the kitchen, which she believes sets

unrealistic goals for people watching at home who'd like to attempt the recipes they see

on television.

She added:

"I think that's why people feel intimidated."

Hall has a variety of tips and techniques she uses to stay healthy, and one of these

is something known as oil pulling.

She admitted to her Twitter followers that oil pulling has become, quote, "part of my

new morning ritual."

Speaking with Rodale's Organic Life, Hall first tried the ancient Ayurvedic practice

when she found a bout of sinus congestion was hampering her ability to taste food.

She explained:

"It's like an athlete having to work out.

I have to do what I can to maintain the integrity of my palette."

Oil pulling involves swishing oil in one's mouth, under the belief that it attaches to

bacteria deeply embedded in the teeth and gums, and then "pulls" these toxins out.

Hall said she swears by it, declaring:

"The first thing I noticed was my sinuses were running.

Now my nose is so wide open, I feel like a super taster."

After her Top Chef fame led her to The Chew and even further television success, Hall

found herself in a somewhat unique position as a so-called celebrity chef who didn't have

a restaurant.

To rectify this, in May 2016 she opened Carla Hall's Southern Kitchen in Brooklyn, and shut

it down the following year.

In a 2017 talk at Nation's Restaurant News' Multi-Unit Foodservice Operators Conference,

Hall discussed how she raised money to open the restaurant by launching a Kickstarter

campaign.

"Hootie hoo, Kickstarters!"

It was something she later came to regret.

Although the effort ultimately raised more than a quarter of a million dollars, she also

came to believe that was, quote, "really what ultimately led to our downfall," when some

fans expressed outrage that a rich, famous TV star would be soliciting donations from

her fans.

She said:

"It's an understatement to tell you that I got beat up by the social media community

for using Kickstarter."

In addition, she also believes she launched the campaign too early, nearly two years before

the restaurant opened its doors.

"I could not predict how long it would take to actually find a space."

According to Hall:

"We had all these people basically asking us, 'What's up?

Are you stealing our money?'"

According to Eater, Hall reflected on the failure of her Brooklyn restaurant during

a 2017 talk, sharing the lessons she learned from the experience.

One key thing she came to realize was that, because of her busy schedule on The Chew and

other varied obligations, she didn't leave herself enough time to launch a new restaurant.

She admitted:

"What I've learned is that being famous does help, [but you] still need to physically carve

out the hours on the ground to execute your vision, and a vision doesn't build itself.

Even though I'm doing all of those [other] things, I had a restaurant and I still needed

to be there."

Another lesson Hall learned is to focus on the here and now, not on a potential future

that may never materialize.

She said:

"Because of my notoriety there was a tremendous amount of focus put on the restaurant's branding

from day one.

We were creating a brand that would become a future chain...so, we weren't even working

on the present.

We were working in the future."

What are the best meals that Carla Hall has ever eaten?

"I need a minute.

Mm.

Mm!"

That's the question that Bon Appetit posed to her, and she offered her top five.

First up, the "Cereal" dessert at Alliance in northern Michigan, consisting of granola,

nuts and seeds, and blueberries, then topped with a sunchoke "milk."

Also in her top five: a, quote, "incredible mushroom risotto" that she ate in the home

of a Scottish woman named Bumble.

Also making the list was a "tea pairing" at the Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio's since-shuttered

Colicchio & Sons, after she took a class on pairing tea with food and felt, quote, "like

I found a new religion."

Another fave in her top five is a cauliflower tempura with steamed Chinese bao at Nix, in

New York City's Union Square.

Finally, Hall singles out the asian-braised oxtail at Brooklyn's Cooks & Captains, saying:

"[It] amazed me so much that I almost don't want to talk about it, because it's a weekend

special and they sell out...the meat is fall-off-the-bone, and I think of it all the time."

Once a Top Chef competitor, Hall headed to the other side of the judges' table in Crazy

Delicious, a new six-episode TV culinary competition co-produced by Netflix and U.K. broadcaster

Channel 4.

It started airing in the U.K. in January 2020.

Along with Hall, the other two judges are Swedish chef and restaurateur Niklas Ekstedt

and Heston Blumenthal of The Fat Duck.

According to a Channel 4 press release, the trio won't be called judges, but will instead

be referred to as "Food Gods."

"Three passionate and inventive cooks work magic with commonplace ingredients, such as

the humble carrot...to create dishes that are both a taste sensation and a feast for

the eyes."

Hall said in the release:

"Being a part of Crazy Delicious has been such a joy.

We have been given some truly delicious dishes to try and, at times, we've had our minds

blown.

I think the viewers are going to be really impressed by the crazy twists on those meals

we're all so used to making on a daily basis."

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