Carla Hall, chef, TV personality and DC resident, is starring in Celebrity Autobiography at Sidney Harmon Hall, this Monday, June 10th. She will be reading from celebrity autobiographies alongside Dayle Reyfel, Eugene Pack, Lanie Kazan, Mario Cantone, Rachel Dratch and Steve Shrirripa. She stopped a moment (between episodes of “The Chew”) to talk with Brightest Young Things about life, cookies and never, ever, ever catering again.
So you’re in Celebrity Autobiography this Monday. That looks amazing.
Have you seen it? I’m so excited, I’m doing Celine Dion. It’s very funny. Wait for it.
How do you kind of see where you’ve come to be through the lens of this production?
The thing is that this is an autobiography of actual words. We’re not really acting. They’re stressing that these people wrote these words. It’s crazy. The straighter you play it, the funnier it is. I saw it in New York. I was Ivanka Trump, Nancy Reagan. I was in it for one part, and when I wasn’t in it, I was in the audience. My stomach hurt from laughing.
Are you worried you’ll write an autobiography that gets featured in this way?
I’m feeling a “hootie hoo” passage would be read in a production like this one.
It’s kind of like when I was doing the General Hospital thing on “The Chew” and I kept saying “It’s gon’ be okay” and Page Six wrote, “It ain’t gon’ be okay.”
In looking at how you got here— cooking, starring in Celebrity Autobiography and co-hosting “The Chew”— I noticed you’ve made a lot of self-aware, conscious decisions to choose things you want to do. You were an accountant, a model in Paris, a caterer and now a TV personality. What’s your process when you’re making a big decision, or in the past; how do you come to the conclusion you need something different?
At 25, I made the decision that I didn’t want to be 40 and wish I had decided on something else. I didn’t want my life to pass me by. You know, Pfizer is doing this “Getting Old” campaign and we talked about it on the show. They tell you to think about what it’s like to get old, so you’re ready. My whole thing is, think about being happy now. When you know the answer is no, it helps you to know what you do want.
You don’t have to know what you want, you just have to know what you don’t want?
Yes. You know “I don’t want to do this thing,” “I don’t want to date this guy.” Even on “The Chew” I’m not afraid to do things. My philosophy is nothing ventured, nothing gained.
When you were in Paris, what was the moment that made you decide to change from a modeling career to one in food?
In Paris, I liked eating food, but preparing it was not something I would have thought to do at that point. I was in that figuring-it-out stage. All these models were in the kitchen for these wonderful brunches, talking and saying “My mother does this” and “my mother does that” but I didn’t know what my mother or grandmother did. I was outside, waiting for them to call and say dinner’s ready. I wanted to start buying cookbooks. Every store I’d go into, I ‘d buy a magazine or a cookbook. I like puzzles, I like figuring things out. That’s in my personality.
You have so many things going on: Celebrity Autobiography, The Chew, cookbooks, Alchemy catering…
Actually I have not catered in 1002 days.
You count the days? I guess you’re glad to be done with it!
Yes! After I was on Top Chef, so many people were flooding in asking for catering orders. When I was set to go on Top Chef All Stars, one thing I said was that I wanted to announce to the world I was not catering anymore.
So you have this cookie business that grew out of Alchemy Catering by Carla Hall.
When I was catering, it was just something we used to do after an event. We’d send these sugar cube sized cookies as a little thank you to our clients. Then they started ordering them for their clients! Now they’re Carla Hall Petite Cookies. We just developed a chocolate hazelnut cookie for Mike Isabella. He’s featuring them at both of his G-Spots [ed. G GrabandGo and G Sandwich], in Edison NJ and DC, this summer. It’s so nice, you make all these friends and then you have a chance to collaborate with them.
So with all these projects, how do you stay balanced and centered, something that’s very important to you?
My husband is incredibly supportive. He’s in DC and we alternate weekends. I’ll go down there, he’ll come up here. I wouldn’t have been able to come up and do this otherwise. I try to get home early. If someone wants to get dinner, I ask how early the restaurant is open because I want to be home by 8. In New York, there’s so many things going on, it’s easy to try and do too much. I go to dance classes, which is something that I love. I take a hip hop class, and I’m taking a ballroom dancing class, that should be interesting.
What projects are coming up this summer that you’re excited about? I know you have another cookbook coming out.
Yes we just finished the photoshoot for that. I love my first one, and it reads like a novel, you know, but I’m so excited for this one. You get the first cookbook out of the way, when you don’t really know what you’re doing. The new cookbook is centered on global comfort food.
And, I don’t know if this is public information yet, but I’m going to judge the final Miss America competition in September.