15 Fun Facts About Carla Hall You Didn’t Know

Updated on February 16, 2024
Carla Hall fun facts

Imagine embarking on a culinary journey with a twist, where the guide is none other than Carla Hall, a figure whose life reads more like an adventure novel than a chef’s resume. From strutting down European runways as a model to crunching numbers as an accountant, and finally dazzling us with her culinary prowess on national television, Hall’s path is anything but ordinary.

Add to this her infectious catchphrase, “Hootie Hoo,” a deep-seated love for cookies, and a passion for comfort food that warms the soul, and you’ve got the makings of a truly fascinating tale. Dive into the world of fun facts about Carla Hall and discover the layers that make up this dynamic chef, author, and television personality.

1. Culinary Career Began in Paris

Carla Hall’s journey into the culinary world is as fascinating as her dishes. Before her fame on television and in the culinary industry, Hall’s professional life took a unique turn when she decided to pivot from her initial career. Originally graduating with a degree in accounting from Howard University, she found herself disillusioned with the monotonous life of an accountant. Seeking a change, Carla ventured into modeling—a decision that led her to the fashion runways of Paris, Milan, and London.

This period of her life was not just about fashion and runways; it was in Paris that Carla’s passion for food and cooking was ignited. Surrounded by the rich culinary culture of France, she was inspired by the socialization that occurred in the kitchen, a stark contrast to her own experiences with food back home. This realization propelled her to delve into the world of culinary arts more deeply. Despite the common misconception that models barely eat, Carla found herself enjoying hearty meals and was especially moved by the communal aspect of cooking and sharing food. It was this environment that motivated her to start collecting cookbooks and seriously consider a career in culinary arts.

Upon her return from Europe, Carla’s newfound passion led her to enroll in L’Académie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg, Maryland. There, she honed her skills and obtained her cooking qualifications in the 1990s. Her career took off from there, leading her to various chef positions and eventually to the launch of her own catering company, Alchemy Caterers, in 2001. Her culinary career would later transcend into television, where she became known for her appearances on “The Chew” and “Top Chef,” along with publishing her cookbooks that highlight her love for comfort and soul food.

Carla Hall in a professional kitchen

Image: pagesix.com

2. Authored Two Cookbooks

Carla Hall brings her culinary expertise and vibrant personality to two notable cookbooks, Carla’s Comfort Foods and Carla Hall’s Soul Food.

“Carla’s Comfort Foods: Favorite Dishes from Around the World” is a global exploration of comfort food, offering 130 recipes that blend American cuisine with international flavors. Hall creatively adapts traditional dishes, infusing them with spices and techniques from around the world, transforming familiar meals into global culinary experiences​​.

“Carla Hall’s Soul Food: Everyday and Celebration” focuses on Hall’s Nashville heritage, presenting a modern take on soul food. This cookbook highlights the traditionally plant-based nature of soul food, integrating vegetables with classic dishes. It features 145 recipes ranging from everyday meals to celebration foods, all while maintaining a focus on health and flavor​​.

Carla Hall cookbooks

Image: charlestonwineandfood.com

3. Cookware Line Creator

Carla Hall, renowned for her appearances on “Top Chef” and “The Chew,” expanded her culinary empire by launching “Sweet Heritage by Carla Hall,” a diverse kitchen and food item collection. Created in collaboration with QVC, this line debuted to the public on March 22, 2023, during a special event broadcast across all QVC platforms. The collection is designed to embody the essence of cooking with love and joy, a philosophy Carla has always championed.

The “Sweet Heritage” range includes kitchen electrics, cooking and baking tools, gadgets, and even food items like Ready to Bake Cornbread Batter and Southern Brunswick Stew. Each product in the collection is complemented by signature recipes from Carla, adding a personal touch that reflects her vibrant style and rich aesthetic. With a color palette that mirrors Hall’s energetic and engaging personality, the collection aims to bring people together in the kitchen, celebrating generational recipes, love, and laughter. Items are priced accessibly, ranging from $25 to $80, making them available to a wide audience of cooking enthusiasts.

Sweet Heritage by Carla Hall

Image: sheknows.com

4. Lives in Washington, D.C.

Carla Hall, celebrated chef and television personality, has made Washington, D.C., her home, sharing her life with her husband, Matthew Lyons, and stepson, Noah. The couple, who tied the knot in 2006, represents a modern love story, having met on the dating site Match.com.

Matthew Lyons, once a lawyer for the FDA, has since embraced a more holistic lifestyle as a yoga and meditation guide, reflecting the diverse interests and dynamic nature of their household.

Carla Hall with her family

Hall with stepson Noah and husband Matthew. Image: countryliving.com

5. Southern Roots: Hails from Nashville, Tennessee

Carla Hall, originally from Nashville, Tennessee, has her culinary roots deeply embedded in the Southern tradition. Nashville, not just famous for its music but also for its distinctive Southern cuisine, provided Carla with a solid foundation in the culinary arts. Her upbringing in this culturally rich city instilled in her a profound appreciation for Southern cooking, influencing her culinary style and philosophy throughout her career.

Her professional journey reflects this influence, notably with the opening of “Carla Hall’s Southern Kitchen” in New York City. This venture aimed to bring a taste of Nashville to a broader audience, focusing on the city’s iconic hot chicken among other Southern favorites. This restaurant was more than a business for Carla; it was a tribute to her Nashville heritage and an attempt to share the warmth and communal spirit of Southern cooking with others.

6. Natural Hair Advocate

Carla Hall also stands out as a significant advocate for natural hair. Approaching her 50s, Carla openly embraced her gray hair, choosing to highlight the beauty and authenticity of aging naturally.

This decision marked a broader statement about self-acceptance and the celebration of one’s true self, resonating with many who admire her not just for her culinary talents but also for her personal philosophy.

Carla Hall showcasing her natural hair

Image: newbeauty.com

7. Catchphrase “Hootie Hoo”

Carla Hall’s “Hootie Hoo” is her signature catchphrase used to express excitement or to gather attention. Originating from her time on “Top Chef,” it reflects her vibrant personality and cooking philosophy.

This catchphrase became a hallmark of her identity on both “Top Chef” and “The Chew,” symbolizing joy and enthusiasm in cooking and life.

8. Cameo in “The Passion: New Orleans”

Carla Hall, renowned for her infectious energy and culinary prowess, made a memorable appearance in the 2016 Fox musical event, “The Passion: New Orleans.” This contemporary retelling of the Passion of Jesus Christ, set against the vibrant backdrop of New Orleans and featuring popular music, saw Hall stepping into the role of a food truck operator.

Her cameo added a unique and flavorful twist to the narrative, blending the worlds of culinary arts and musical theater in a way only Carla Hall could.

Carla Hall smiling in front of a food truck

Image: gardenandgun.com

9. Hosted Baking Championships

Carla Hall, a celebrated chef and television personality, has made significant contributions to the Food Network, notably through her roles in the network’s esteemed baking competitions. Hall’s journey in culinary television has seen her transition from contestant to judge and host, a testament to her expertise and popularity in the culinary world. Specifically, Hall has been a prominent figure in the “Halloween Baking Championship” and “Holiday Baking Championship,” where she has leveraged her culinary knowledge and engaging personality to both critique and guide contestants.

In 2020, Hall took on a dual role as judge and host for the “Halloween Baking Championship,” a position that marked a significant milestone in her television career. This role was not only a nod to her culinary prowess but also to her ability to connect with audiences and participants alike. Additionally, her involvement in the “Holiday Baking Championship” as a judge came during a crucial time when Lorraine Pascal was unable to participate due to COVID-19 restrictions.

10. Engages in Philanthropy

Carla Hall is not just a chef and television personality; she is also a fervent philanthropist, dedicating her platform to support a wide range of charitable organizations. Her commitment spans across various causes, notably including the American Heart Association, American Stroke Association, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and the Food Bank For New York City. Through her support, Hall has made significant contributions to areas such as at-risk/disadvantaged youths, children’s welfare, health, and hunger alleviation​​.

Hall’s philanthropic efforts extend beyond financial contributions; she actively participates in initiatives that resonate with her personal and professional values. As a board member for the Pajama Program and GenYOUth, along with her involvement with DC Central Kitchen, the USO, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Feeding America, and Women Chefs and Restaurateurs (WCR), Hall exemplifies a hands-on approach to giving back. She emphasizes the importance of food security and strives to ensure that eating well is a right, not a privilege. This belief has guided her charitable efforts, particularly around food and children, underlining the critical role chefs can play in addressing food security from the onset of their careers​​.

Hall’s philanthropy is a testament to her belief in the power of food as a change agent, evident from her service trip to Mozambique with CARE, where she worked alongside local women in farming and fishing communities. This initiative aimed at empowering these women to enhance their livelihoods, stretch their earnings further, and emerge as community leaders. Her work with AARP and Meals on Wheels in the U.S. further showcases her dedication to making a difference, focusing on both nutritional support and the crucial human connection that comes with it.

Carla Hall philanthropy

Image: bravotv.com

11. Before Becoming a Chef She Was an Accountant

Before Carla Hall graced television screens and charmed audiences with her culinary expertise, she embarked on a markedly different professional path. Graduating with a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Howard University’s Business School in 1986, Hall entered the corporate world, securing a position at Price Waterhouse in Tampa, Florida, where she earned her Certified Public Accountant designation.

Despite achieving this professional milestone, Hall quickly realized that the world of numbers and balance sheets was not where her passion lay. Disenchanted with the daily grind of accounting, she left her position after just two years, setting the stage for a remarkable career pivot that would eventually lead her to the culinary arts​​.

12. A Culinary Explorer’s Global Journey

Carla Hall’s passion for culinary exploration and cultural immersion shines brightly in her series “Chasing Flavor,” where she embarks on a global journey to uncover the roots and stories behind dishes integral to American cuisine. From the spicy streets of Mexico to the aromatic kitchens of Italy, Hall delves into the essence of each locale’s culinary traditions, revealing how they’ve come to shape our own food landscape.

Her travels aren’t just about sampling exotic dishes; they’re an educational odyssey into the history and culture of each region. For instance, in Italy, she traces the evolution of ice cream, unearthing its cold, creamy origins in the Renaissance. Meanwhile, a visit to Turkey offers insights into the rich, storied past of coffee, showcasing how this beloved beverage has brewed connections between continents over centuries.

Carla Hall Chasing Flavor

Image: X.com

13. Carla Hall: A Culinary Icon in Top Publications

Carla Hall has graced the pages of renowned publications such as Food & Wine, Bon Appétit, and O, The Oprah Magazine, showcasing her versatility and influence in the culinary world.

These features highlight her innovative cooking techniques, her vibrant personality, and her journey from a model to a celebrated chef and television personality.

14. Carla Hall’s Petite Cookies

Carla Hall introduced “Carla Hall Petite Cookies,” blending her Southern roots with unique, gourmet flavors. Her collection features innovative combinations like Almond Ginger Cherry Shortbread and Cheddar Pecan, emphasizing quality ingredients and a home-made feel.

The cookies’ packaging, featuring a heart logo with Hall’s initials, showcases the brand’s emphasis on love and care in baking. Transitioning from traditional tins to clear packaging, it offers a peek into the artisanal quality of the cookies, enhancing consumer appeal.

Carla Hall Petite Cookies

Image: Pinterest

15. She Dislikes Unnecessary Additions like Bacon and Truffles in Dishes

Carla Hall, a celebrated chef known for her vibrant personality and culinary expertise, has a specific culinary pet peeve: the overuse of bacon and truffles in dishes. Hall believes these ingredients are often used unnecessarily and can overshadow the true flavors of a dish. She emphasizes the importance of allowing the natural taste of food to shine through without relying on these trendy additions to enhance or define a dish’s flavor profile.

Hall’s philosophy encourages a more authentic and thoughtful approach to cooking, urging chefs and home cooks to prioritize the integrity of their ingredients and the craftsmanship of their culinary creations. This perspective reflects a broader culinary ethos that values simplicity and authenticity over the allure of high-end ingredients.


What inspired Carla Hall to become a chef?

Carla Hall’s journey to becoming a chef was unconventional. Initially pursuing a career in accounting and modeling, her inspiration to cook professionally ignited while living in Europe, where she was exposed to diverse cuisines and the communal joy of cooking. The realization that food could evoke deep emotions and bring people together led her to switch careers, eventually attending L’Academie de Cuisine in Maryland. Her passion for cooking is deeply intertwined with her love for sharing and connecting with others through food.

Did Carla ever win Top Chef?

Carla Hall did not win “Top Chef” during her appearances on the show. She first competed in Season 5, where she became a fan favorite and finished as a finalist. Hall returned for “Top Chef: All-Stars” (Season 8), showcasing her culinary skills and vibrant personality once again, but she did not take home the top prize in either season. Despite not winning, her participation significantly boosted her popularity and opened numerous doors in her culinary and television career.

What is Carla Hall most known for?

Carla Hall is most known for her infectious personality, her catchphrase “Cooking with love,” and her appearances on “Top Chef” and as a co-host on the ABC daytime talk show “The Chew.” Beyond television, Hall is recognized for her advocacy of soul food, aiming to redefine and elevate the cuisine through her cookbooks and public appearances. Her culinary style blends Southern comfort food with a focus on wholesome, seasonal ingredients.

Who is Carla husband?

Carla Hall is married to Matthew Lyons, a lawyer and photographer. The couple has maintained a relatively private life outside of Hall’s public culinary career. Their relationship exemplifies a strong support system, with Lyons often supporting Hall’s culinary ventures and public appearances.

What cooking show was Carla on?

Carla Hall was a co-host on “The Chew,” an ABC daytime talk show that focused on food and lifestyle topics from 2011 until its cancellation in 2018. Before that, she gained national attention as a contestant on “Top Chef,” appearing in Season 5 and later on “Top Chef: All-Stars” (Season 8). Hall has also made appearances on various cooking and food-related shows, further establishing her as a beloved figure in the culinary world.

What is a quote from Carla Hall?

One of Carla Hall’s most memorable quotes is, “Say yes, adventure follows, then growth.” This quote reflects her approach to life and her culinary career, emphasizing openness to new experiences and the personal and professional growth that comes from embracing opportunities. Hall’s philosophy encourages embracing the unknown with enthusiasm and a positive outlook, qualities that have defined her journey in the culinary industry.

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