Courtesy of AVAST
Most cookies are absolutely delicious while others can leave a bad taste in your mouth; particularly the cookies in your web browser. Unfortunately, not all cookies are created equal says former Top Chef contestant and The Chew’s Carla Hall. The renowned chef who knows a few things about cookies—edible and digital—just recently partnered with Avast, one of the global leaders of digital security and online privacy, to help educate people about some of those bad cookies that are potentially putting internet users at risk.
“I have been duped into going to these fake websites and putting information out there. So it’s real to me,” Hall told MADAMENOIRE over zoom. “My identity has been stolen. The thing is we’re not as tech-savvy as I think we would hope. In the last couple of years, we’ve had to learn a lot very quickly.”
Cookies can be a bit alarming if you’re not sure how they function, especially for some folks who just can’t wrap their heads around today’s loaded tech jargon.
“There are some cookies that are from vendors that you trust. For example, if I’m looking at a pair of shoes online and I really like that company, I don’t mind when those ads pop up because I want to go back there and buy something, but when those crumbs and that information is sold to someone unsavory, that’s when you get on the list that you don’t want to be on, but that is where Avast comes in. With their products, and many of them are free, you can scan your phone and your computer to make sure that when you accept those cookies that you are cleaning up that digital footprint.”
Hall has also teamed up with Avast to create some online privacy-inspired cookie recipes just in time for the holiday season and don’t worry, these are edible and absolutely delicious. “I made the Ginger Cranberry Linzer Torte and it is a spiced cookie with a windowpane that has powdered sugar and jam. It has a very gingery, sweet, and tangy jam that goes really beautifully with all the spices in the cookie.” The busy chef has also whipped up a yummy recipe for painted shortbread cookies. “I love art and in the season where everyone is doing these cut-out cookies, I said why not do frosting, color it, and actually do a painting so you make a big old cookie like a canvas,” she explained of the mouth-watering treat.
Carla Hall has come a long way since wowing the judges on Bravo’s Top Chef and Top Chef: All-Stars. The seasoned cook spent seven years hosting ABC’s Emmy-award-winning daytime talk series The Chew and she’s also been featured as a judge on a number of tasty shows including The Food Network’s Holiday Baking Championship and Netflix’s Crazy Delicious. Back in November, The Say Yes! podcast host published her first children’s book– something that she has always dreamed of doing for years.
“I wanted to do a children’s book forever. I actually drew as a child. I’ve always been into art, always been into crafts. I thought I was even going to be a cartoonist. That didn’t happen” she joked. Hall sits on the board of The Pajama Program, a non-profit organization that helps to provide comforting bedtime routines and educational resources to children affected by adversity nationwide. The busy cook said that her passion for picture books and reading to children sparked the idea of bringing a touching story from her own childhood to life in her new book “Carla and the Christmas Cornbread.”
The adorable tale stems from Carla’s fond memories of spending time with her grandmother on Sundays. For Hall, there’s a deeper meaning buried beneath the sweet storybook, one that stresses the importance of preserving family tradition and history through food. “It shows inter-generations with my grandparents, my mom and my sister and I, and also cooking together,” she said on her inspiration behind the book. “I think it’s really important to cook with your elders because in making this food, that’s how we pass down our cultures, our traditions and who we are as people. Without that, we go out into the world and we don’t have those anchors, which is just so willy nilly. It was also important to show Santa in my likeness and it doesn’t mean that this book is only for Black children. It means that if you are Mexican, if you are East Indian, you can see Santa in your likeness and I think that’s really important to show.”
Hall is currently cooking up a few other exciting projects including a new travel show called “Fork in the Road” which will make its debut on Discovery+ soon. “It’s six episodes and each episode takes a dish that is quintessential to America but we talk about the crumbs being left,” she told MADAMENOIRE. “We take it back to four cities. It has been so much fun and not only am I learning about different cultures, but I’ve learned a little something about myself.” Hall has been filming in a few international cities for the forthcoming series. While taping in Florence, the cookbook author had a strong food memory that she said brought her to tears. “I couldn’t talk and I was just crying, but it was a good memory from my grandmother and how food travels. You never know that something that your grandmother has cooked can appear in a thread thousands of miles away.”
Now, we couldn’t let this interview end without asking Carla Hall a few food pointers. At MADAMENOIRE, we absolutely love oatmeal, and turns out the tasty breakfast delight is one of Hall’s favorites too, but you can only eat so much of it before it starts to get a little boring. Hall gave us a few tips on how to spruce up a good old tasty bowl of oatmeal to help bring back a little fun and flavor to the dish.
“Do you know that you can do half water half fruit juice? That means blueberry or sour cherry apple,” Hall said with excitement. “If you finish it with milk, you can also do chocolate and almond which is delicious with a little bit of cinnamon. You can make a big old vat of it and then portion it out in jars so, in the morning, you just grab the jar, reheat it, add some more milk and put whatever you want to in it! If you want to get festive, you can put your oatmeal into a shallow dish or pane, brulee it and then add some little toasted almonds. I travel with my oatmeal internationally. I love it.”