Top Chef Alum Carla Hall's New NYC Restaurant Serves Nashville Hot Chicken for the Brave

The Nashville-born chef is daring enough to bring this scorching Southern classic to the uninitiated.

It takes guts to even bite into a piece of Nashville-style hot chicken, but to try to copy the dish anywhere north of the Mason-Dixon takes serious courage. Luckily, Top Chef alum and The Chew host Carla Hall—who was born and raised in Nashville—decided to take on the challenge. Her brand-new Brooklyn restaurant Carla Hall's Southern Kitchen offers the tongue-lashing chicken on its menu, in six levels of spiciness.

In today's New York Times restaurant review, critic Pete Wells calls Carla's chicken crust "excellent," and describes how the hotness affected him physically and mentally. As Wells writes, "heat tolerance is of course a personal thing, but at level three I became slightly more aware of my skin; at level four, I became conscious of the passing of time; at level five, I began tearing off chunks of white bread and stuffing them into my mouth." Level six gave him "second thoughts" about whether he could even handle that amount of spice, and adds that "the hottest and crunchiest chicken I ate was the one I waited longest for." 

As for the crust? Wells calls it "excellent, a darkish shell both formidably crunchy and a little chewy. Spice or no spice, this is not a style of fried chicken you often find in New York." 

He also recommends the pimento cheese, served with a bag or Ritz crackers and "exactly what I hoped it would be. "To wash down all that spice, Wells directs readers to the banana pudding, the "only dessert anybody really needs" after a meal like that.

Carla's daring hot-chicken gambit started with a Kickstarter campaign back in 2014, and we're hoping it leads to more hot-chicken restaurants everywhere.

Paging Anthony Bourdain: Are you ready for some level-six? The challenge is on.

Carla Hall

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