My 5: ‘The Chew’ Host Carla Hall’s Go-To Celebrity Cookbooks (Exclusive)

Getty Images (Carla) / Dey Street Books / Grand Central Life & Style / Lake Isle Press

The former ‘Top Chef’ star opens up to ET about the holidays and giving back.

Chef Carla Hall has one goal for the holidays: for everyone to slow down. 

“We’re so busy doing stuff,” says The Chew host and former Top Chef contestant, who is perhaps best remembered for her philosophy of “cooking with love.” “The busier I get, the more family is important to me. I have to carve time out to make sure that everything else stops around me and that I get this time to spend with family.” 

It’s why Hall is partnering with T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods to launch the Gift My Gathering campaign, which aims to inspire families to press pause and celebrate what truly matters -- each other -- by offering the chance to win their own holiday celebration. “This campaign says, ‘Forget the stuff. Let's look at each other. Let's have a conversation. We're going to celebrate each other.’ And I think that's the greatest gift,” she explains. 

As she readies for the holidays, which includes a massive family gathering and introducing food traditions to the newest generation over Thanksgiving, Hall shares her favorite celebrity cookbooks that any food fan will enjoy. 

“I look for something relatable,” Hall says of exploring new books and recipes. “I look for things that I'm going to make and things that I may want to use for a holiday gathering. A lot of the time, I will buy the cookbook to use as a reference and look at the pictures and probably never use the recipes -- but I want it for the ideas.”

Stirring Up Fun With Food: Over 115 Simple, Delicious Ways to Be Creative in the Kitchen by Sarah Michelle Gellar and Gia Russo

“The books is geared towards kids, and if you really want to make a difference in where food is going, you have to get kids in the kitchen now.”

Bringing It Home: Favorite Recipes From a Life of Adventurous Eating by Top Chef judge Gail Simmons with a foreword by host Tom Colicchio

“Gail basically shares a lot of information and cooking knowledge from the perspective of the judge, and the recipes are incredible.  Gail has eaten all over the world and given us those recipes in an approachable way for the home cook.”

The Cut: Lose Up to 10 Pounds in 10 Days and Sculpt Your Best Body by Morris Chestnut and Obi Obadike

“This is a book that has really great recipes that I have come to do over and over again. But it also helps people who are trying to get in shape and become more disciplined about their bodies and eating habits. It gives you a very distinct plan to follow and you use it to tailor your workout and meals, I made little index cards for it! It is so good. And the recipes are DELICIOUS!”

All of Rachael Ray’s Cookbooks

“Rachael’s recipes are tried and true and always approachable.  She doesn't call herself a chef, so her recipes are from the perspective of a home cook and they really work. She takes in consideration ingredients, time in the kitchen and flavor.”

Pretty Fun: Creating and Celebrating a Lifetime of Tradition by Kate Hudson

“Her book is wonderful. She really loves food. It’s about her entertaining with ease, which she does so well. I really enjoy this book.”

Hall is also the author of two cookbooks, Cooking With Love: Comfort Food That Hugs You and Carla's Comfort Foods: Favorite Dishes From Around the World, which are out now.