By Eileen Katz
Carla Hall is a co-host of ABC’s lifestyle series “The Chew” with restaurateurs Mario Batali and Michael Symon, entertaining expert Clinton Kelly and health and wellness enthusiast Daphne Oz. Carla came to fame as a competitor on Bravo’s “Top Chef” where she won audiences over with her fun catch phrase “hootie hoo” and her philosophy to always cook with love. Although originally from Nashville, she came to find home on the Upper West Side. You can check out her first restaurant in Brooklyn, Carla Hall’s Southern Kitchen, slated to open on June 17th.
Why the West side, Carla?
“The Chew” was about to start shooting in September 2011 and I needed a place to live in the city so I chose this neighborhood because I wanted the green space – I have two parks here! And also something that felt community-oriented and quieter. I found a place in this old pre-war building. It’s a great building. My neighbors are very friendly. It’s a small building and I know all of them. I also recognize people on my street and I feel like I know the people up here and I like that.
What’s the best part about living up here?
It’s close to my job and easy to get downtown on the express train!
What’s the worst part about living up here?
There aren’t as many restaurants as there are downtown.
How is living up here different from living in any other neighborhood?
It’s quieter. There are more older people and families up here. You don’t get as many people walking around, bar hopping and stuff. And it’s definitely quieter on the weekends. We also have the parks, which, as I said, was one of the things that made me want to move here. I work out at Riverside Park – I go roller blading and cycling. I can walk through Central Park forever, which I love. So to have two parks so close is great!
Which leads to my next question, a la “Boxers or Briefs?” Central or Riverside?
I’d have to say Central! And my favorite is coming down the Great Hill.
What are some of your favorite places to go up here?
I love walking along the Promenade – Riverside Drive. It’s very serene there. In the spring and summer I love going rollerblading in Central Park when they have those roller skating parties, which is awesome.
And to shop?
I love looking in the windows of “Really Great Things”, Papyrus, and there’s a hat store I love near there too.
And most importantly, to eat?
Jacob’s Pickles, Sugar and Plumm and I like Patsy’s Pizza.
Do you have a favorite routine?
One of my favorite things to do is walk out of my building and two blocks away is Yoga and then I go to the Communal Table and have tea and soup and then I walk home.
What’s the most quintessential Upper West Side experience you’ve had since living up here?
Speaking of Zabar’s, if you were stuck on a desert island and could only have one thing from Zabar’s what would it be?
It’s got to be the matzoh ball soup!
Describe to me a typical Upper West Sider.
They probably have a baby carriage and a dog, and they are friendly and occasionally have time to stop and chat.
If a street up here was going to be named after you, which one would you choose and why?
Part of 72nd – the part that is on my route to go into Riverside Park to work out. That’s where a lot of people see me walking and always comment that they have seen me…if feels like it’s my place!
When they declare “Carla Hall Day” on the Upper West Side, how would you like people to celebrate?
We are going to have a huge block party starting in the 70’s going all the up to 125th St! There’s going to be music and parades and shopping and food! Lots and lots of food.
To read all of our “Why the West Side” columns, click here.