Celebrity chef Hall discusses food, fashion and authenticity – Oxford Observer

For celebrity chef Carla Hall, both food and performance are ways to connect people with their families, regional heritage and past.

On campus Monday for a series of lectures in Miami, Hall went to a group dinner with a handful of Miami students at the Goggin Center clubhouse. The topic of hot water cornbread came up during a discussion of her recent children’s book, “Carla and Christmas Cornbread,” and the connection between food and childhood memories. In Tennessee, her family left out the hot water cornbread, not the cookies, for Santa.

It wasn’t long before the network star was on the phone with the grandmother of Jordan Bishop, a Miami student who grew up in North Carolina but knew nothing about hot water cornbread.

“I live in Atlanta, Georgia, so I was taught to make hot water cornbread,” Bishop’s grandmother said. “We still do it for special occasions.” Laughing over speakerphone, she promised to teach her kids the recipe.

“I think food is a way and recipes are a way to bring our culture, and that’s the most exciting thing,” Hall said. “It’s honoring people and it’s a medium.”

Whether it’s a short car ride, a 3-course dinner, or the lecture hall stage, Hall has shown a genuine interest in connecting with people to, in his words, “tease the story of history and culture “.

“What I do is more about the performance than the food,” Hall said. “For me, food is a vehicle for doing all of these things, and I’ve been able to do and pick and choose what I want to do through the lens of food.”

From model turned chef, Hall is 58 years old, has worked as a professional chef in several restaurants in Washington DC. She started her career in TV appearing on ‘Top Chef’ and ‘Top Chef: All Stars’ which helped her land her first role as co-host of ‘The Chew’. She is now an accomplished television personality, she has made guest appearances on “Good Morning America” ​​and the Food Network’s Christmas cooking shows and is the author of several cookbooks and children’s books.

Hall said her passion for food began by sharing a weekly brunch with friends when she worked as a runway model in Paris. Her friend Elaine made macaroni and cheese, which sparked conversation about how the mothers in the group prepared the dish. This connection made Hall realize that food brings people together in unexpected ways.

“Food is the one thing, and I didn’t realize it at the time, that allowed me to be myself and to be creative,” she said.

After returning to the United States, as Hall grew as a television personality, she wanted to ensure that her personal history and the history of her culture as a Southern black woman were accurately represented.

“For me, I was constantly asking for a Black producer or someone who understands my background as a Black woman, as a Southerner, someone who’s in her 50s, you know that all helps tell your story,” she said.

“I’m 58 and it’s taken me decades to truly be myself,” Hall said. “That doesn’t mean I wasn’t authentic along the way, but all my experiences have led me to that point. I think the best thing about aging is the wisdom you pick up along the way, and honestly, you’re too tired to be anyone else.

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