Meet Chef Carla Hall

She took Top Chef by storm, coined a catch phrase and hosts a daytime talk show.  
Get the dish on celebrity Chef Carla Hall.

You’re famous for your philosophy, “Cook with love.” Tell us a little about why this is so important to you.
I believe that when you want to do something, you do it better than when you’re forced to do something. No matter how simple a dish is, it tastes a heck of a lot better when your heart is in it. 

Getting kids to eat their veggies is a tricky business; any advice for moms of picky eaters?
Kids tend to like sweeter vegetables, like peas, carrots and corn. Doing something as simple as tossing veggies in Country Crock® makes them creamy and delicious. It may help to always have these veggies on hand in the freezer for when you’re in a jam.

What’s your favorite vegetable and why?  
I believe in food memories, and peas have to be one of the most memorable. They are my all-time favorite vegetable. When I was a kid, my mom used to toss them in Country Crock® and put a large spoonful on top of my mashed potatoes. Yummy!

Have you ever had a major kitchen flop, and what did you learn from it? 
Have I ever had a kitchen flop? Ha ha ha! Oh, let me count the ways. Flops are inevitable, but it’s your attitude about them that’s important. Whether it’s a combination of ingredients that just didn’t work, or under/overcooking the dish, or just realizing that my technique was faulty, I’m reminded that I will do it differently the next time. Most times, I do the dish again right away, while the lesson is fresh. 

What are some of your go-to kitchen or cooking tips all busy moms should know?
One-pot wonders are a busy mom’s best friend. Casseroles are a great way to use leftovers or to plan several meals at once: Make one for now and one that can be frozen for later. Use Country Crock® three ways for ease and perfection: one, in the dish to keep the casserole from sticking; two, in the casserole for creaminess and deliciousness; and three, in the crunchy bread-crumb topping for texture.

Your “petite cookie” company, Alchemy, has a devoted following. What’s the best part about baking?  
Our sweet-and-savory cookies are the size of sugar cubes, but they have the flavor of a huge bite. Our devoted followers appreciate that we’ve made it possible for them to eat almost everything, but in moderation. I’ve always found baking very relaxing, with a big sweet payoff at the end. That and seeing folks smile while they eat something you’ve made.

“Hootie-hoo” and “That’s my jam” are great catchphrases! Where did they come from—and do you have any new ones? How about a catchphrase for using Country Crock ® ?
You know, it’s funny. I don’t think about creating catchphrases, because they’re mostly created in the moment. When I use them over and over, I’m reliving a favorite moment. It has been such a blast working with the Crock Star Finalists, so what comes to mind is “Crock on with your bad self!” because I’m reminded of how delicious all their recipes are.

What’s your favorite thing about hosting The Chew?
The deepening friendships with my co-hosts. The questions I get most from viewers are, “Are we really having as much fun as it looks on the show?” and “Do we really get along that well?” Yes and yes! I look forward to going to work every day. 

Being a two-time finalist on Top Chef is a big deal! What did you learn from that experience?
I am so grateful for the Top Chef experience not only for what I learned about myself, but also because the experience helped a career that I didn’t even dream of blossoming. While competing, I learned how tenacious I am and how deep I’m able to dig when my back is against the wall—qualities that I continue to use today.

During the holidays, families get in the habit of cooking and eating meals together. What’s your advice on how to keep the tradition going all year long?
Make the “ordinary” times special by having members of your family plan a theme! Make a new tradition that the family looks forward to having. Make it as simple or involved as you want. Play! 

You’re hosting a big family dinner: What do you cook and why?
I talk a lot about food memories, and my cookbook, Cooking with Love is full of them. It’s full of recipes my granny and Grandmother Thelma made when I was growing up. As a matter of fact, for the last big holiday dinner, I asked my family members to pick their favorite recipe from my cookbook and prepare it for dinner. It worked beautifully, and all the food was delicious. It’s now a tradition and a way to get everyone involved in preserving our family food memories.  

And what’s the best thing about having lots of leftovers?
The best thing about leftovers is one, saving time, and two, turning your leftovers into a new dish, like a casserole. There are several casserole recipes on www.countrycrock.com that will help you look like a star and Crock on with your bad self!