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My Everyday: Carla Hall

As a favorite on "Top Chef" and cohost of "The Chew," Carla hall is known for cooking on TV, but her passion is cooking from the heart.
Everyday Food, October 2012

"I have a pretty loose definition of comfort food. Anything can be comfort food as long as you feel like it hugs you or brings back a good memory. For me, that's Sunday dinners at my granny's house when I was young. She cooked and I ate. You could really feel the love she had for us in the foods she made. I was so excited to sit at that table!"

Carla's book, "Cooking with Love," is about comfort food "I want people to write in this cookbook. I want it to be spattered with grease and paperclipped all over!" she says. As a sneak peak, here's Carla's Super-Fast Fried Chicken recipe.

Q&A with Carla Hall

Q: How long have you been making this fried chicken?
A:
This is a version of my grandma's recipe, which I grew up eating but didn't make myself. When I first started cooking professionally, I never, ever wanted to do fried chicken. I had been to a French culinary school and I thought, I don't do soul food, I don't do meatballs and chicken wings and that sort of stuff. But I was doing a three-week-long catering job and one day I said, "Okay, fine, I'll make fried chicken." People were cheering, they were so excited. They loved it! This kind of food just makes people happy and brings people together.

Q: Did your grandma give you lots of recipes?
A:
She didn't really use recipes -- it was always just a pinch of this, a pinch of that. A recipe is only a guide. If you feel like changing something, just go for it! If it's right in the moment, do it. That's how you create your own personal comfort food.

Q: How do you stay healthy?
A:
Oh, I'm all about balance. I want to really taste the food, not muddle the flavors with fat. Sure, fat adds flavor, but it shouldn't overshadow the fresh food. My grandma often served fried chicken with a tomato salad and vinegary cucumbers. It was a great balance!