Chef Carla Hall is everywhere these days. From Food Network to her new show, Chasing Flavor on Max, you can find her cooking or talking about food just about anywhere on TV. But she is more than just a TV host and judge on your favorite food shows. She is also on the board of GenYouth, an organization that brings healthy options to students, ensuring they are empowered to make choices.
With GenYouth's recent partnership with Quaker Oats and the NFL, Carla will be presenting a check for $250,000 at the Taste of NFL event to GenYouth to ensure they can continue doing their amazing work.
I was lucky enough to talk with Carla about the Super Bowl, GenYouth, oats, and what she makes for the Super Bowl.
Carla Hall talks Super Bowl snacks, favorite oat recipes, and GenYouth
Guilty Eats: With the Super Bowl coming up, what team are you rooting for?
Carla Hall: I don’t know. When I think of Kansas City, I think of the people I know there and a really great friend is from Kansas city and when I think of Kansas City, I think of her.
But really, when I watch the game, I am always rooting for the team with the ball because I feel like it’s so much pressure on them. And then I’m like why do they keep running into a big pile of people? I don’t get it.
GE: I hear you have another show coming. Tell us a little bit about that.
Carla Hall: Yes! Tasting Flavor. It airs on Max. It is a show about food culture and people. It’s taking these beloved American dishes and tracing them back and choosing a path. It’s not a definitive path because a food path is like a tree. It’s simply what branch you choose to go down. We choose a path, and we are talking to people who are connected to the dish at that particular time.
Basically, I want people to say “Oh I didn’t know that” when we feature these historical facts that are connected to a particular culture. Because when people move from one place to another, they become a butterfly effect for food. They bring something that they had, they use something that they’ve never seen before, and they make something new. That’s pretty much the story of most dishes that we have in America. If you don’t know the culture, you don’t know the dish, and you can’t take the culture out of the food.
GE: The Taste of the NFL event is coming up and you're attending. What are you most excited about the event?
Carla Hall: Well, it’s in Vegas, so I’m excited about that. I’m excited to meet some of the local chefs because it tells you a little more about the place. Again, thinking about Chasing Flavor, the local chefs tell you a little more about the place because everyone thinks “Oh everything is bigger in Vegas” but there is a culture there. The food that is there and the people who are there. So I’m really excited to meet those local chefs and see how they bring the culture of Nevada versus the city of Vegas into their food.
I’m also excited to present the $250,000 check to GenYouth with Eli Manning. He is one of the players I know in football. And what is so wonderful about this event is that it’s serious business raising money but it’s in such a fun way. The energy of the event is incredible.
GE: Speaking of GenYouth, what kind of programs will the money be going towards?
It’s going towards products that are going in the schools. They have the breakfast carts. What people don’t realize is that there is such a stigma in going to the cafeteria for some students because nobody goes there. And if you do go there, that means you are “free lunch” and you sort of separate yourself. It’s the haves and the have-nots. So, with these breakfast carts, the students can grab something and go right to their class early in the morning. It includes yogurts and milks and things like that. Also, there are smoothie machines as well.
It’s going to all that equipment that makes breakfast and lunch easier for the students to grab a healthy item.
GE: Ok, now that we are talking football. What are your game day snacks?
Carla Hall: I am a big proponent of dips. Be it hot or cold. They are contained things, and you can prep them ahead. So, if you are doing things that are hot, you can place them in ramekins and put them in the fridge and then the oven and rotate things out when serving. And nothing looks picked over.
Also, the baked oatmeal that I do for the morning; I think you could do those in smaller portions and then put them out for dessert. And with those, you can do whatever fruit or chocolate you want and make it sort of like a sundae with yogurt or something like that.
The things I normally do are pantry items; however, I’m going to say that I think that people should do something in honor of both teams. And people will be like “Well, what do I do?” You go to the Quaker Playbook because you get recipes that are inspired by each team.
For San Francisco, I immediately think of chowder and for Kansas, barbecue.
But I’m always doing easy stuff and i always have a soup or stew going which is why the baked oatmeal almost becomes like a cupcake which is a great little side to some soup.
GE: What are your tips for cooking with oats? People seem to find this hard even though it’s not that difficult.
Carla Hall: The thing is it’s a whole grain so you can use it the way that it is in recipes. Generally, if I want texture, I cook oats in hot water. If I want a creamy texture, I cook them in cold water. If you are using oats as a binder, it’s great to pulse them in a food processor. You can also get the Quaker oats flour. It all depends on what you need.
When you want to extract flavor, don’t just use water. You can use stock for savory and fruit juice if you’re doing something sweet.
GE: What is your favorite recipe including oats?
Carla Hall: I just did a luncheon and I did my meatloaf balls and I use oats in that. That is the secret to the moistness in my meatloaf balls. I take the oats, I grind them up, add the milk and the spices, and then put that in the meat and the vegetables, and people are like “Oh my gosh, these taste so good.” Even if you use just pork or if you use pork or chicken or turkey, it’s the same thing. They are just really, really delicious. And it’s because the oats and vegetables hold onto the moisture.