Despite the plethora of entertainment options to chose from (judging by the excess of nosh and the impressive line up all-star chef guest speakers) food is the star attraction at the O.C. Fair. Last Thursday, Duff Goldman (of Ace of Cakes fame) kicked off the O.C. Fair Chef Series by speaking about culinary artisan and Rick Moonen (Top Chef Masters) will wrap up the talks on August 11 at 1:30 p.m. with a piece about sustainable seafood. Holding the middle spots are Top Chef alums Carla Hall (who spoke about comfort food yesterday) and Micheal Voltaggio (who'll be discussing the art of presentation August 4 at 1:30 p.m.), who found the time to chat about their upcoming work, their respective roles in the O.C. Fair and, of course, Top Chef. The interview with Carla Hall is after the jump!
OC Weekly: What did you do today?
Carla Hall: I just sent back a signed contract for my cookbook. Yay!
Congratulations! What's your cookbook going to be titled?
It's gonna be … comfort food … well, I don't know. We have a working title, “Comfort food, food that hugs you.” But it's definitely just a working title.
Has your day-to-day changed much since participating in the show?
Yeah, I tell people that ever since the show, my life has felt like a perpetual Quickfire. Meaning that you have to process information quickly. It's been a learning experience.
Comparing life to a Quickfire seems pretty intense! What's the hardest Quickfire you had to do? And which was your favorite?
I think my favorite was the egg challenge, with Wylie Dufresne. That was really fun because you think of Wylie Dufresne and you're like “Gosh, I don't do molecular gastronomy so let me not even do that, let me just be clever.” So that's how I came up with the green eggs and ham. That was awesome, that was fun. For the hardest, honestly I was going to say the one with Tom–the “quickest Quickfire”–but I think it was the one with Paula Deen, because everyone was looking at me expecting me to do well and it was like, all of a sudden, “Oh my God, what am I going to do?” Because I honestly don't fry food.
Have you ever been to the OC before?
No, this is my first time, for the Fair. You know, they asked me to make chicken pot pie and I was thinking “OK, how can I make OC chicken pot pie.” (Editor's note: someone take Carla to the La Palma Chicken Pie Shop, stat!)
Is comfort food your favorite type of food?
Yes, but when I say comfort food, I'm not just talking about southern food, I'm talking about food from all different cultures. I love Indian food, Thai food, Mexican food …
Are you planning on sticking around for Michael Voltaggio's demonstration?
I would love to! I met him for the finale, so it's not really like we got to talk. So, I would love to hear his thoughts and perspective on food.
What other new things are you working on besides your book?
The cookies, the sweet and savory cookies. It's funny when I tell people I have a line of small cookies. They're like “oh you have cookies” But no, they're really small cookies, they're like the size of M&Ms.
How do you make those?
We put the dough in a sheeter–so we roll it out, we have a wheel that we make a grid on, where we cut them out. And I just got a new piece of equipment, so we'll be able to make them a lot faster than we have been, but it's all by hand.
I'm sure you'd make a killing with that in California–we love small, cutesy things here.
Oh I know! Well my manager keeps saying “When are you coming to Califronia, when are you gonna come to Califronia?” And we have to figure it out, because we can send them there but in order for a store to carry them we have to factor in shipping. But I think so, I think you're right. I'll bring some with me to the fair.
So, anymore catchphrases since “Hootie hoo”?
It's funny becaue I don't think about my catchphrases, they just sort of — come out. So, “chicky-poo” is something that I say, and when I sign off on my email I say “toodles poodles” And my husband and I have this thing when someone says something mean, we say “that isn't niceessary.”