Carla Hall // Carla Hall's Soul Food

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“I am celebrating the fact that I am unapologetically in love with soul food. … And showing people that it is more than what you think it is. There are two sides to the coin.”

– Carla Hall

This week, we're excited to welcome Carla Hall to SALT + SPINE, the podcast on stories behind cookbooks.

Carla is the author of Carla Hall's Soul Food: Everyday and Celebration. She has written two other cookbooks, appeared on Top Chef and Top Chef All-Stars, and co-hosted ABC's The Chew from 2011 to 2018.

We sat down with Carla at our studio inside San Francisco's The Civic Kitchen to discuss the road trip she took for her latest book, her path to becoming a chef, and how she's using her platform to tell the food stories of black Americans.

Plus this week: We talk with The Washington Post's Bonnie Benwick about the top-selling cookbook of 2018 and why food media ignored it, and as always we check in with Celia Sack at Omnivore Books in San Francisco

Carla on her motivations behind Carla Hall’s Soul Food:

“I wanted to use my platform for a bigger thing — to tell a story about African-Americans. I didn’t need to do another book with just recipes; I didn’t really care to do that.

But to really showcase our culture and to say ‘Hey, we are all here.’ And I’ve never wanted to be an ‘only’ – like, the ‘only black’ or the ‘first black.’

My whole thing is: I want to come in with a posse. I want to come in with my culture — and I know that there are other people doing books way before I was doing this book. But those books fell by the wayside. And I think it’s for them … it’s for all of these people, the Jessica Harrises, the Alexander Smalls, all of these chefs that I know, these black chefs, that their voices aren’t heard, but I know they’re there.”

Carla on the importance of cookbooks:

“Culture moves through understanding how to cook its food. You know, when you understand how to cook the food in that culture you continue that culture.

If you have stopped cooking, and you don’t have a cookbook to point to, then you’re going to lose the culture. And I think things change an awful lot in restaurants because people are always looking for the newest, the brightest, the trends — and so it’s constantly changing.

And if you’re not doing it … you may be eating that culture, but you’re not experiencing it, and touching it, and replicating that culture.”

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