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Posted at 11:00 PM ET, 06/23/2011

D.C.'s "Top Chef" favorite Carla Hall too busy for the kitchen right now


Carla Hall leads the live auction at "Chefs Take a Stand" fundraiser for National Network to End Domestic Violence. (Cynthia Fraser/NNEDV. )

Carla Hall may be Washington’s most famous chef who doesn’t cook.

“I’m a recovering caterer,” she confessed at Wednesday’s “Chefs Take a Stand” fundraiser at Sequoia restaurant. “It’s been 178 days since my last event.”

The former model/“Top Chef” contestant, 47, is busy with other things these days: Lots of charity appearances, her new cookie business and — starting this fall — a daytime food show on ABC.

“Hootie hoo!” she greeted donors with her catch phrase at the National Network to End Domestic Violence benefit. Hall — in her trademark funky glasses — chatted up fans waiting for photos and a chance to meet her; it’s her lively turns on “Top Chef” (she was voted “Fan Favorite” last season) that made her a rising star and a big draw on D.C.’s food and charity circuit.


Carla Hall on an episode of “Top Chef All Stars.” (Barbara Nitke/AP)
Television, she told us, “really puts the chef in a very personal space with the people who love food. Fans start to know us as people. . . No longer can the chef just stay in the kitchen and say, ‘My food is out there. That’s enough.’ ”

Hall was a local caterer when she was first picked for Bravo’s “Top Chef” in 2008: “I didn’t realize how popular the show was. I just thought it was just a little cult show that people in the food world watched.” Her company wasn’t equipped for the sudden growth then, but she was better prepared when Bravo asked her back for “Top Chef: All Stars” this spring. Hall made the show part of her business plan, converting her catering firm into “Alchemy by Carla Hall,” a gourmet cookie brand.

Now Hall is poised to become really famous — or another daytime talk show casualty. She’s one of five co-stars (with Mario Batali, Michael Symon, Clinton Kelly and Daphne Oz) on the food-centric “The Chew,” which is replacing “All My Children” in September. She’ll spend weekdays in New York; weekends in D.C. with husband Matthew Lyons, who works for the FDA.

Read earlier: Carla Hall: This ‘Top Chef’ is the toque of the town, 2/27/09

By  |  11:00 PM ET, 06/23/2011

 
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