Get ready, food enthusiasts! Chef Carla Hall embarks on a global culinary journey in her latest HBO series, “Chasing Flavor” (TV-G), aiming to unravel the lineage of beloved American food classics.
But this isn’t your run-of-the-mill food travel show. Hall, celebrated chef, cookbook author, and familiar face from programs like Food Network’s “Holiday Baking Championship,” isn’t content with merely showcasing exotic dishes from distant lands. Instead, she delves deep into the surprising and interconnected origins of America’s most cherished comfort foods. Across six episodes, Hall dissects the histories behind staples like shrimp and grits, chicken pot pie, and hot chicken, revealing stories as rich and complex as the flavors themselves.
“If you don’t know the story, you don’t know the dish,” Hall emphasizes in the series trailer, capturing the essence of her exploration into the oral history of food.
The adventure kicks off in episode one, as Hall explores the roots of chicken pot pie, a quintessential Southern delight. From the flaky pastry of Jamaica to the savory fillings of Asia, she uncovers the global influences that have molded this timeless comfort food. Along the way, she sheds light on the ingenuity of enslaved cooks who adapted European recipes to local ingredients, and the impact of immigration waves that infused new flavors and techniques into the dish.
In another episode, Hall delves into the evolution of ice cream, tracing its journey from French custard and Italian gelato to Turkish dondorma and eventually to the version we enjoy today. She also shares insights into how she incorporates authentic techniques into her own kitchen, and how exposure to diverse culinary perspectives has shaped her approach to cooking.
As a self-professed foodie, I was fascinated to learn about the inventive ways past cultures used ingredients, and how certain regions maintain unique and sometimes quirky culinary traditions. Hall’s infectious enthusiasm and genuine curiosity shine through as she immerses herself in local kitchens, engaging with traditional techniques and savoring authentic flavors. The series also captures cultural celebrations, providing a glimpse into the communities that have preserved these culinary treasures for generations.
“Chasing Flavor” serves as a poignant reminder that food is more than just sustenance—it’s a living tapestry woven from history, migration, and human resilience. Through her culinary odyssey, Chef Carla Hall invites viewers to rediscover the heart and soul of America, one delicious bite at a time.
For fans of food travel shows and cooking aficionados alike, “Chasing Flavor” promises both entertainment and enlightenment. Produced by Fremantle Original Productions, you can catch “Chasing Flavor” on HBO (check local premium listings) or stream it on-demand with an HBO Max subscription.