Carla Hall Goes From “Top Chef” to Cat Food

By Adele

Top Chef All-Star Carla Hall has parlayed her experience pleasing finicky Tom and Padma into a gig with Purina Fancy Feast® cat food.

I’m serious.

Carla is the guest judge in the Fancy Feast® TasteMakers contest, where humans and their cats concocted new flavors for Elegant Medleys®. Purina will go to any lengths to avoid just putting more meat in the can.

You know what that means. Unless the contest is rigged, Carla is going to have to EAT that stuff to make her decision. I hope, at least, they give her a fork.

Purina limited entries to a check-off list of acceptable ingredients (including CARROTS. and acini di pepe pasta. Ha!), so the 1,656 submissions quickly start to look alike if you flip through them.

The 5 finalists all have a protein with variations on wild or long-grain rice, spinach, and — get this — tomato FLAKES — steeped in “savory broth” or “classic gravy.”

Purina omitted the most OBVIOUS ingredient that would have made their contest truly special…

Ground MOUSE.

Here’s a video of Carla explaining the contest.

If you click to the second video, Purina’s chef says they watch “restaurant trends” for inspiration.

Translation: They make their cat food appeal mostly to HUMANS so they’ll shell out big bucks for minimal protein padded with spinach or carbs, and drowned in rich-looking sauces — the only thing the cats will like and lick off. The rest goes down the disposal.

Ka-Ching! for Purina.

The TasteMaker winner gets $10,000 and a year’s supply of Fancy Feast®. Purina is donating $1 for each vote to, up to $25K. You can vote once a day until August 8.

For the record, after heated debate (because that’s just how we roll), Cats Working voted for Purrrfect Sushi, inspired by rescue cats Wasabi and Ginger. It’s yellowfin tuna, shrimp, wild rice, and classic gravy. The one thing we all agreed on was that we’d spit out the rice.

6 Responses to Carla Hall Goes From “Top Chef” to Cat Food

  1. adele says:

    Carla, Mario Batali, and Michael Symon are also going to be on a talk show, called “The Chew” starting in the fall. They all have pleasing personalities, and Mario is pretty erudite, but I have a hard time picturing a one-hour talk show that’s just about food.

    Alice and Dorothy must have been in some kind of a glow following the Dalai Lama’s visit to Chicago; when they voted in the Fancy Feast contest, they picked “Sherpa’s Delight,” a combination of yellow fin tuna, shrimp, and I think greens in a savory broth.

    There’s a line of pretty expensive cat food that comes in flavors like Chicken Pot Pie and Grandma’s Turkey Dinner. I was charmed by the names and the packaging — Alice not at all.

  2. catsworking says:

    Ah, more culinary navel-gazing. What network is “The Chew” on?

    Maybe Animal Planet could do a spin-off with a panel of dogs called “The Chew Toy” where they bark on and on and on about the merits of different ones. It would be essentially the same thing.

    In our debate, another thing we all agreed on was no “savory broth,” which is just another name for water. Our choice had to have real gravy, since that’s the only thing the boys actually eat from these frou-frou foods (I tend to be a clean-plate kitty, which Karen appreciates). Joke’s on them. An hour later, they’re HUNGRY again!

    9-Lives used to have a food called “Savory Stew” (maybe they still do) that had chunks of carrot and potato and real peas in it. They were definitely aiming at the “seniors on a tight budget” market. Karen tells us that the resident cats many years ago and could consume everything but the peas, which they’d leave rolling around in the bowl, clean and perfectly intact.

  3. Zappa and Zappa's mom says:

    Hi Adele!
    My food,Wellness Chicken has carrots in it and Its delicious! My Human commented that what with the dreck that celebrity chefs put in their mouths while tut-tutting that “Americans just WON’T eat this”, what’s the BFD with a little ground mouse?


  4. adele says:

    “The Chew” will be on ABC and has replaced a couple of venerable soap operas, including “All My Children.”

    My girls seem to like brothy things, although Dorothy will eat anything except the expensive prescription food I bought for her (continuing) urinary issues. My first cat kind of liked Nine Lives’ Savory Stew — all except the peas as well

    .Dorothy is turning out to enjoy a late evening snack as well as her two meals. After who knows how long on the street, she seems to love regular meals and fresh water, and even the little bed I bought her. She’s just amazingly grateful, which, of course, completely melts my heart.

  5. catsworking says:

    Adele, Cole here to comment on Dorothy: Rest assured you melt Dorothy’s heart in return whenever you do something special for her. After spending some time in the ‘hood not knowing where her next meal was coming from, having some security means the world to her and she’ll be careful not to do anything to blow it.

    OK, Cole. Butt out! This is MY post!

    Adele (the cat) back in charge: Interesting to hear that Carla has hit the big-time with network TV, even if it is only daytime. We’re waiting for Fabio to get his own cooking show.

    Adele, we Cats Working kitties like tuna juice and, most recently, yummy shrimp juice (Karen’ made a shrimp pasta salad for July 4 and used canned shrimp for the first time). But we’re meh on the special chicken stock she made for Yul. So much work, so little flavor.

    Zappa, I think you have hit on the next great challenge for Top Chef. They should give the chefs an assortment of “exotic” ingredients normally used only in pet food, and challenge them to make something DELICIOUS out of them. I’m thinking chicken beaks and feet, pig snouts, hooves, and rodent parts. Of course, Bourdain loves all that stuff, but I’m betting it would turn Padma vegetarian again.

  6. Carrie says:

    Oh … I just adore Carla. She was my winner on her season. Definately not Ho-Bag.

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