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March 5, 2009

Carla Hall Talks Top Chef

By Denise Tong

By the time the New York-based fifth season of Bravo’s Top Chef came to an end, finalist Carla Hall had turned out a strong set of challenge wins and near-wins, all the while earning a ton of fans with her earnest and enthusiastic approach to both the competition and food itself.

Her highlights included winning Super Bowl tickets for a challenge against previous seasons’ contestants and making a “last supper” that famed chef Jacques Pépin said he’d enjoy having as his final meal.

The owner of Alchemy Caterers in Washington, D.C., the Nashville native offers clients food that reflects both her comforting Southern roots and her classic French training. She continues to offer a chef’s table to give people a chance to sample her food outside of a catered environment, and plans to start selling her sweet and savory cookies.

In the wake of last night’s end-of-season reunion episode, Hall talked to about the show and viewers’ reactions to her.


CV: Who else would you have liked to have competed with in the finale in addition to Stefan and Hosea?

CH: I would have liked to have competed against Jaime. Not only because she is an amazing chef, but because I think she left the competition too early.

CV: What would you have liked to have done in New York while you were filming that you weren’t able to do?

CH: I would have liked to have gone to the Union Square Greenmarket. Also, I would have loved to have been able to see at least one Broadway show.

CV: Did you have any worries about how you’d come off on TV?

CH: Initially, I was concerned that I would be portrayed as a little weird because of my strong spiritual beliefs. However, I knew I would be myself, and what you see is pretty much what you get. I think the producers captured my essence.

CV: How have you reacted to people’s comments about you online?

CH: I have a pretty tough skin, and folks are entitled to their opinions. Initially, the comments about me were about my big eyes and how kooky I was. Now, this was from folks who didn’t know me. Folks who know me said it was great that I was being myself! As the show went along, the comments were less about me and my kookiness and more about the food I was preparing. I’m glad that I was on long enough for the viewers to see both sides of me.

CV: Are there any misconceptions about yourself, or others on the show, that you want to clear up?

CH: Well, there’s a minor one I would like to clear up…it’s about my goofy run, or shall I say, “trot.” I’m goofy, that’s true; but to the folks who say I shouldn’t run, I have to tell you that I can run a graceful sub-seven-minute mile. Well, I could a couple of years ago.

Stefan is not the arrogant curmudgeon that he seems to be. Granted, he sounds like it and he carries himself like it, but he has a HUGE heart. I think his game face is bigger than his bite. Don’t tell him I told you. 

CV: Have you had any particularly memorable fan moments?

CH: I don’t know if there is just one moment. I am particularly moved when fans say they have been inspired by something I said on the show.

CV: What do you consider your worst kitchen disaster? 

CH: Oh my gosh…the desserts I prepared for the Restaurant Wars episode. I disappointed my team and myself.

CV: Name your favorite comfort food.

CH: Burger, fries, and homemade lemonade.

CV: What advice do you have for future cheftestants?

CH: Be yourself! Be willing and open to learning more about yourself and your craft. Focus on YOUR food, not the other cheftestants’ food.

Photo courtesy Bravo.

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