When one thinks of Thanksgiving from a top-tier Top Chef, they’d probably imagine the best turkey they’d ever tasted. However, the traditional bird is not on Carla Hall’s menu this year. In fact, she’s going cold turkey.
“We will probably do a chicken,” Hall, 56, exclusively tells OK! via Zoom from her home in Washington, D.C. “My husband can’t have turkey, so we’ll do chicken.”
But, in true pro-chef style, Hall will not forgo traditional Thanksgiving flavors altogether on November 26. “I think I’m going to do chicken in the style of turkey with all the poultry seasonings and a spicy gremolata, and then cornbread dressing,” she says.
Hall is going all out for the first big day of this year’s holiday season, especially since her mother, who turns 80 the week before Thanksgiving, will be in attendance. “I haven’t seen my mother the entire time that we have been quarantining,” Hall explains. “She hasn’t been traveling. So just to have her here will be really, really special. She’s stir crazy. So many people are saying, ‘Oh she shouldn’t travel.’ And we’re like, ‘Mama, get a mask, get a shield, get a blanket, get something.’ We really wanted her to come.”
Along with Hall’s chicken dinner, the former Chew host is whipping up collard greens, candied yams covered in a “delicious” brown sugar, lemon ginger, black pepper sauce and macaroni and cheese — “because I only eat it four times a year,” she swears.
Also on the menu this year for Hall? Kindness and generosity.
The celebrity chef recently partnered with Chase and United Airlines on the United GatewaySM Card and launched the “Gateway to Giving” campaign. “It’s almost a thing where, as a chef, ‘I am cooking. I need to give food to people who don’t have access to food or who don’t have food banks,’” she explains, adding that the campaign will donate over $700,000 to Feeding America.
After all, she can’t help but give back during all of her pandemic free time. “I’ve turned our basement apartment into a set, so I do a lot of cooking — more food than we can eat — so I’ve been making meals for my neighbors,” she says.
“I make something, I pack it up, and I take it to them. And I randomly put together care packages and just ship them to friends and people around the country. I actually feel good doing something for someone else.”
Isn’t that what Thanksgiving is all about?