Prefacing her gig co-hosting ABC’s The Chew, with Daphne Oz, Clinton Kelly, Mario Batali, and Iron Chef Michael Symon, Carla Hall “hootie hoo-ed” her way through Top Chef—some time after modeling, training in French cuisine, and getting an accounting degree. Her new book is Cooking with Carla: Favorite Dishes from Around the World.
Q: Where do you eat in New York?
A: For a quick, weeknight meal, I will go to Patsy’s Pizza or Jacob’s Pickles or Sugar and Plumm. I go down to 68th and Broadway—I think it’s Daniel Boulud; he has those five restaurants down there. There’s a Mediterranean place, a sit-down place, and a little place you can go and just pick up cold cuts and salads.
Q: Comfort food has a rep of being bad for you—true?
A: Growing up in Nashville, my grandfather had hypertension, so my grandmother altered the dishes he ate; I grew up having a lighter version of Southern comfort food. I push the envelope on flavor, but I may back off on the amount of salt and fat in the dish.
Q: Do you exercise?
A: I have a high metabolic rate, but my body is changing. I’ll be 50 this year. I walk a lot, especially here in New York.
Q: You used to be a model?
A: It’s funny, when I was modeling, I fell in love with food in Paris. You always have these designers who want you to be really, really thin, and I was never small enough, even though I was thin.
Q: What are we missing here, ‘up north’?
A: I do miss the food we get from middle Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama, and when I come up here and I have the greens…I wish there was a place for the kind of soul food I crave.
Q: Any favorite guests on The Chew?
A: Gwyneth Paltrow, who is a really great cook. She cooks at home, so she was really easy with cooking and talking. I was impressed.
Q: What’s being on reality TV like?
A: People ask me, ‘Did you have fun?’ Um…that’s not how I would have described it. You’re freaking stressed out.
Q: Where do you cut corners [when cooking]?
A: If it were between buying the pre-chopped veggies versus going out to eat, I would say go ahead and get it. If I’m roasting a chicken or something, I always do two at a time and save some for later.
Q: What do you make sure to check out when traveling?
A: The grocery stores and farmers’ markets. I want to see the locals and see what they’re buying, and talk to vendors about ingredients I’ve never seen and ask what to do with them.
See Hall promote Cooking with Carla on April 4 at Stew Leonard’s in Yonkers.