At the moment, Carla Hall—the two-time Top Chef finalist, current co-host of The Chew, caterer and soon-to-be restaurateur—has one of those problems you might call "good to have." As she gets ready to launch her much-anticipated new Brooklyn restaurant Carla Hall's Southern Kitchen on September 1, after various building-related delays, fans keep stopping her on the street, demanding to know when the place is finally opening. As Carla prepped for that big moment, she took a break to sit down with Eater's editors for a revealing, in-depth interview about what it's like to be Carla Hall. Among her juiciest reveals? How a TV-related incident involving Gladys Knight made Carla feel so slighted, she angrily confronted her producers in a way that would've gotten a normal civilian fired.
The situation happened on The Chew, on a cooking segment starring Gladys Knight. Carla's co-host, chef Michael Symon, got to host the segment with Gladys, and Carla was pissed off that the producers didn't pick her to do it.
"Basically Gladys Knight came on, cooked with Michael, and I mean it’s not like she wanted to cook with Michael. The producers put her with Michael, and they made a smothered chicken dish. So I was like, 'Aw snap, wait, what?'" Carla recalled in the Eater interview.
To add insult to injury, Carla said, "when I went into her dressing room just to meet her before the show, all of her people were like, 'Oh my god, Gladys was so excited to come on the show. She loves you. She watches the show everyday' — and I wasn’t cooking with her. Gladys Knight is from my generation, I’m fifty-two, so listening to her, you know, my hero, from the South. So I was like, 'Wow.'"
Carla was just about ready to storm out: "Some other things had happened prior to that, so that was kind of like the last straw." So what happened?
"I called a meeting with the producers," Carla added, "and I said, 'Look, there are two things that are wrong with this. Either you didn’t think about me cooking with her, and that’s a problem ‘cause you didn’t think that I would want to cook with her. Or you didn’t have me cook with her because there’s a problem with my interviewing and I am not up to snuff, and that’s your report card because you have not helped me get there. So either way, this is your report card, and you’re failing.' "
So Carla told the producers that they were failing at their job. And then what happened? "I said everything that I wanted to say because I knew that I didn’t want to go home wishing I had said something else, and I said, if I get fired, that’s okay, but I’m gonna go out being me and telling you exactly how I feel. And they looked at me, and they were like, 'Okay! All right! Here she is! Thank you for showing up.' It was crazy."
You'll have to read the rest of the (totally fascinating) interview to find out what came next, and get Carla's smart and funny insights about food, work, Top Chef, and life in general. One of our favorite parts? How she described her mood after that Gladys Knight incident: Carla had a case of the "f*ck-its."
Suffice to say, she still has her job. Perhaps she should consider a side gig as a life coach?
Seriously. You go, Carla.
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