Carla Hall is bringing some of the South to New York City. The one-time Top Chef contestant and current host of The Chew is readying her NYC eatery, Southern Kitchen, which will pay homage to foods of her home state of Tennessee.
"It's really a love letter to Nashville's hot chicken, which is traditional southern fried chicken tossed in a cayenne spice paste or oil," she tells the latest issue of Essence. "It's simple food, the kinds of meals I had at Sunday suppers at my grandmother's house. It's a place where people can slow down. I just want a joint where you can chill, have some good food and get out of the rat race."
While the food may be old-school, Carla funded the restaurant in a very modern way: she launched a Kickstarter campaign, which helped her raise $260,000. Donors were allowed to be part of the process of opening the restaurant and will be given a place on the Founder's Wall inside.
"Nobody can put his or her entire world into a business, and a restaurant is a money pit," she says of her decision to crowd-source funds. Plus, she didn't want to add a strain to her home life just to open the restaurant. "I also wanted my fans, family and friends to feel as if they a part of it," she says.
In addition to the restaurant, Carla opened up about the advice her female family members gave her about pursuing her passions in life.
"My mother and grandmother said, 'It's not your job to be rich, but it's your job to be happy,'" she says, noting that it was her choice to leave the world of accounting behind and pursue a career in cooking. "Every time I moved, I thought, 'What does my heart want?'"