How Much Heat Can Carla Hall Handle? The Answer Might Surprise You

 The #TopChef alum dishes on her Nashville-style hot chicken restaurant. 

Carla Hall has come a long way since her days calling out "hootie hoo" on Top Chef. The Season 5 and Season 8 cheftestant and Fan Favorite has spent the past six years as a co-host on ABC's The Chew, doing everything from kicking up her heels alongside the Rockettes to executing flips during a trapeze lesson. She's also written two cookbooks, runs her own catering company, and hosted the James Beard Awards in 2016. And in her spare time last year, she managed to open a restaurant, Carla Hall's Southern Kitchen, in Brooklyn, NY.

"I'm from Nashville, Tennessee, so we do Nashville-style hot chicken. Chicken and sides, that's all we serve," Carla explained to The Feast. "It's all about the sides. Good cornbread and biscuits."

Buttermilk biscuits, cornbread, jam & butter. Oh my!

A post shared by Carla Hall's Southern Kitchen (@carlahallsk) on

Along with cornbread and biscuits, the menu features traditional Southern sides like collard greens, candied yams, and mac n' cheese. The restaurant allows you to choose your own chicken pieces, then customize them with one of six increasingly spicy "hoot 'n heat" levels.

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Would Carla Hall Ever Compete on Top Chef Again? We're Hoping Yes

"So the first heat level is just 'Southern,'" Carla explained. "There's no spice at all, just southern fried chicken. And then there's the sweet heat [the second heat level], that has a little bit of cayenne, but mostly honey powder. It's just a little kiss of heat, so if you don't like spice you can still have that hot chicken experience."

Level three features cayenne as the main source of heat, while level four stars the habanero pepper. There's also pineapple powder and other spices to balance out the heat.

"Level five, we celebrate the scotch bonnet, a little bit of mango powder," Carla continued. "And then level six, which we call 'Boomshakalaka,' is the Carolina reaper, ghost peppers, and banana powder. So that's for the people who really like it hot. But it's also really flavorful, and it's that slow burn."

So what heat level does the famously fired-up Carla prefer at her own restaurant? Turns out she's more moderate than you might think. "I can do number four, number four is good," she said. "But I think where I can taste the chicken and be comfortable? Number three."

The number three level is named "Hoot" on the menu, and number four is called "Hootie Hot."

"So all of the names are a derivative of my 'hootie hoo,' which I have Top Chef to thank," Carla declared.

Top Chef certainly gave Carla her big break, but we can probably all agree that the world is a little bit spicier with Carla Hall in it.

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