Carla Hall's Advice For Bridging The Gap Between Baking And Cooking - Exclusive

Carla Hall is known for her many wonders in the kitchen and serves as a regular Food Network television contributor where she is a judge on many of the seemingly countless versions of "Baking Championship." As a sweets aficionado, one might presume that Hall's focus is only on desserts, but as a trained chef who competed on "Top Chef" and "Top Chef: All-Stars" her impressive repertoire extends greatly into the fields of both sweet and savory. We recently chatted with Hall at the New York City Wine & Food Festival's (NYCWFF) Baking Championship: Fall Flavors to discuss all things sweet and delicious as well as to learn her guidance for bridging the boundaries between different kitchen specialties. 

Some home cooks may be wary about branching out into a new culinary medium, but Hall believes it isn't very difficult to move between cooking styles, the essential trick is to expand your thinking and your creative approach in the kitchen. "The thing is, I think that if you're good at desserts, you'll absolutely be good at cooking. But you have to think about textures and flavors and getting color — like there's flavor in the brown."

Hall's secret to bridging sweet and savory

According to Carla Hall, there's no reason to limit yourself to only one specialty in the kitchen and there is certainly no reason to feel pigeonholed as either a maker of sweet dishes or a maker of savory dishes. You can and should try both. While many swear that you have to follow baking recipes exactly, lest you end up with a baking failure on your hands, cooking and baking are both all about culinary learning that extends into culinary experimentation. The key to success in both is to master a particular technique and then to branch out to make that technique your own by imparting your own spin on it. 

"I suggest everybody try both sides because there's a little bit of sweet in the savory cooking and there's a little bit of savory in sweet and I think you're bridging them," advised Hall. "The people who are the most versatile make the most interesting food because they're blurring lines." 

Indeed, some of the most satisfying dishes are accomplished by blending different culinary techniques, like browning butter in a savory dish or adding thick crispy strips of bacon to a sweet cookie. So go ahead, throw caution to the wind, and start experimenting!