Carla Hall (born May 12, 1964) is an American chef residing in Washington, D.C. She was a finalist in the fifth and eighth seasons of Top Chef, Bravo's cooking competition show. On April 14, 2011, it was announced that Hall had become one of five cohosts on The Chew, a one-hour live show centered on food from all angles. The show premiered in September on ABC, replacing All My Children.
Hall was born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee. She graduated from Howard University's Business School with a degree in accounting in 1986. After working for two years at Price Waterhouse and obtaining a CPA certificate, she shifted focus and spent several years working as a model on the runways of Paris, Milan and London. It was in the first of these three cities that she quickly fell in love with the art of food.
Upon returning to the United States, Hall moved to Washington, where she started a lunch delivery service called the Lunch Bunch. After working there for four years, she enrolled in L'Academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg, Maryland, graduating with a Culinary Career Training certificate. From here, she went on to serve an externship at the Henley Park Hotel in 1996, where she was then promoted to sous chef. In the following years, she worked as the executive chef at the State Plaza, a sister hotel, and the Washington Club, a private social club. Then, in 2001, Hall started her own catering company, Alchemy Caterers, based in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Hall's big break came in 2008, when she was selected to be a contestant on the fifth season of Top Chef. In the initial half of the show, she was in the middle in most episodes, but was in the top for the Thanksgiving challenge. After Episode 10, she wowed the judges with her crawfish gumbo, going on to win Super Bowl XLIII tickets for this victory. After this, she won two more challenges and was in the top for several others. Most notably, she impressed Jacques Pépin, who said he could "die happy" after eating her fresh peas, and Emeril Lagasse, who said he loved her gumbo. However, in the final challenge in New Orleans, she and Stefan Richter ended as runners-up to champion Hosea Rosenberg.
On the show, Hall gained popularity for her personality, although she did not win Fan Favorite in her season. She became known for her call-and-response catch phrase "Hootie Hoo!", a tradition she and her husband had whenever trying to locate one another in public. Hall also became known on Top Chef for her philosophy of "cooking with love", which she defined as putting one's own care and warmth into food. She believes that if one is happy and calm while cooking, then this will show in the food, making it much better, whereas if one feels otherwise, it will degrade their cuisine. For this reason, she says that, “If you’re not in a good mood, the only thing you should make is a reservation."
Hall was part of the cast of Top Chef: All-Stars, the eighth season of the show which consisted of participants from past seasons. She performed well in this season, which included demonstrating her recipe for chicken pot pie on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. However, she was eliminated in the first round of the Finals, after being plagued with equipment difficulties in both of her challenges. In her exit interview, she said, "The judges made the right decision. I didn't have a winning dish." She would appear twice more in the Finals, once as part of a Quickfire challenge and again as a sous-chef for season runner-up Mike Isabella. Finishing fifth overall in the competition, Carla was awarded "Fan Favorite" for the season by viewers of the show, beating out Season 5 fan favorite Fabio Viviani.
Currently, Hall continues to work as the executive chef and owner of Alchemy by Carla Hall (formerly Alchemy Caterers), specializing in petite and savory cookies. She appeared on the May 3, 2009 cover of the Washington Post Magazine, on a feature called "Fit for Fame", about still exercising while being famous. Since April 14, 2011, Carla Hall is one of 5 cohosts on The Chew, a one-hour live show centered on food from all angles. The show premiered on September 26, 2011 on ABC, replacing All My Children.