The best way to catch this popular, statuesque phenom is on ABC’s The Chew every weekday at 1 pm. The season starts Sept. 3, renewing Hall’s Amtrak life between New York (Mario Batali and crew) and D.C. (her FDA attorney-husband). Before she had this high-profile persona, Hall played other glam parts: Howard U. student-dancer, runway model in Paris and Milan, fine hotel chef, marathon runner, caterer, Bravo Top Chef finalist and All-Star.
What brought you from hometown Nashville to Washington?
I came for an accounting degree. I ate soul food at Florida Avenue Grill and my first half-smoke from a truck.
Did you always plan to be a chef?
Not at all. I loved to eat, but I only cooked when there was a reward...like a Girl Scout merit badge. When I lived in Paris, the American models cooked brunch, and I could see how much I didn’t know. So later I went to L’Academie de Cuisine here in Maryland.
Your new book Carla’s Comfort Foods bridges cultures?
Yes, international flavors can transform any basic dishes. It’s the seasoning that takes chicken soup to India, even the Caribbean.
If the Obamas asked for a dinner at the White House?
I wouldn’t overthink it. I’d do what they expect from me: fried chicken, greens, vanilla cake with white frosting.
What’s the most memorable event you’ve catered here?
During the Inaugural of 2008, I catered a rooftop reception at the Hay-Adams Hotel. The view is an amazing panorama with the White House at the center.
But a more accessible vantage point?
The crest of the hill on 13th Street. That’s where we watch the July 4th fireworks.
Where do you find your bold jewelry in D.C.?
My mother and I go to Jeweler’s Werk in Georgetown. I bought earrings there that look like game jacks, some elements inlaid with quartz stones.
Your new joint venture?
My Carla Hall Petite Cookies and the Capital Teas boutiques now pair tastes like honey ginger macarons with Nile chamomile
organic tea. For locations and how to buy, see carlahall.com.
What’s next in D.C.?
I’m consulting on Page, a Southern comfort food restaurant due next spring at Reagan National Airport.
Where will you be traveling?
To Hawaii soon, but my favorite place is Cap d’Antibes. I like to pack a neutral wardrobe to dress up or down with jewelry
What do you never leave home without?
Noise-canceling head phones and battery back up.