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.
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Credit: Ida Mae Astute

"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!


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