Why Carla Hall Wants You To Stop Taking Recipes So Seriously - Exclusive

Seasoned baker and illustrious chef Carla Hall knows a thing or two about mastering recipes in the kitchen. Hall has appeared on Bravo's "Top Chef" and "Top Chef: All Stars," co-hosted ABC's "The Chew," and currently serves as a judge on Food Network's "Thanksgiving, Holiday, and Halloween Baking Championships." We had the opportunity to catch up with Hall at this year's New York City Wine & Food Festival (NYCWFF), where she co-hosted the Baking Championship: Fall Flavors alongside chef and cake master Duff Goldman.

In celebration of all things related to baked goods, Hall shared her favorite sweets as well as cooking tips for home chefs who may feel daunted by the pressures of the kitchen. The most important guidance, Hall believes, is "not to take the recipe too seriously," as doing so can diminish the joy of cooking. For Hall, "a recipe is a guide. Allow yourself to play [with] whatever you like."

Bringing joy back into the kitchen

As the holidays approach, it's easy to find yourself overwhelmed by the stress of planning meals for large gatherings and the pressure to perfect special dishes for the season. Chef Carla Hall wants you to remember that cooking is about fostering joy and relieving some of that stress. Doing so will not only make you feel good but will also likely lead to wonderfully delicious culinary creations.

Stumped on where to begin? According to Hall, the best place to start is by thinking about what first led you to cooking. "I would start with [asking yourself] what are the things that you liked to eat as a child and recreate those. Recreate the things that maybe a parent made for you or a grandparent or an aunt. And start there with your joy." The foods of our childhoods can have a tremendous impact on our senses and memories, making the act of recreating them particularly special. Many beloved chefs, including the late Anthony Bourdain, EJ Lagasse, and Jacques Pépin, share Hall's appreciation for the joys rooted in their childhood meals.