Chef Carla Hall announces her first children’s book, Carla and the Christmas Cornbread

Left: author photo of Carla Hall. Right: Cover of "Carla and the Christmas Cornbread."
Photo: Melissa Hom, Illustration: Illustration by Cherise Harris / Denene Millner Books

If you have followed the career of Carla Hall, you already know what a multihyphenate she is. Even before getting her big break on Bravo’s Top Chef in 2008, she was a CPA, a runway model, and a successful restaurateur; since becoming a household name on cooking shows, she’s gone on to write cookbooks, co-host the daytime talk show The Chew, launch a podcast, make cameo appearances on soap operas, and of course, continue cooking lots of delicious comfort food. Now, Carla is adding “children’s book author” to the list of her professional accomplishments: this November, her picture book Carla and the Christmas Cornbread will be published by Simon & Schuster’s latest imprint, Denene Millner Books.

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This picture book, illustrated by Cherise Harris, follows the story of Carla, a character inspired by Hall’s own childhood. Here’s a synopsis of the story:

Young Carla can’t wait to celebrate her favorite holiday—Christmas—with her family and grandma’s special recipe—a perfectly delicious cornbread. When Carla accidentally takes a bite out of Santa’s sugar cookie, she thinks she has ruined Christmas. How will Santa know to stop at their house if they don’t leave him a midnight snack? Will Carla be able to come up with a plan in time to save Christmas?

“I have been wanting to create a children’s book for a long time now,” said Hall in a press release. “I am thrilled to have partnered with Denene Millner Books on bringing this to fruition and Cherise Harris for her illustrations that really give life to the characters that harken back to my childhood.”

[Image provided by Simon and Schuster]
Image: Simon & Schuster / Denene Millner Books

Denene Millner Books is helmed by Hall’s editor, Denene Millner, who wanted to create a children’s book imprint that celebrates the everyday lives of Black children. Carla and the Christmas Cornbread is a great example of how to bring that mission to life.

“I grew up in an era where a good Christmas story was always pretty homogenous—leaving my parents to color, quite literally, our holiday tales with visions that reflected our own reality as an African American family,” said Millner in a press release. “Carla’s sweet, gorgeous tale recounts Black traditions and frames the narrative in a way that says, unapologetically, beautifully, that Black joy matters.”

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“Also, her cornbread and cinnamon butter recipe will blow Santa’s mind!” she added.

We at The Takeout are big fans of Carla Hall, and this upcoming book is just one more way to enjoy what she brings to the food world. Cookbook authors becoming children’s book authors is a trend we’d love to see more of, because the results are usually a great reminder of all that we appreciate about these chefs in the first place.

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Marnie Shure is editor in chief of The Takeout.

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