The daytime cooking show The Chew went from having five hosts to three in less than a year, and the change naturally had an affect on the remaining stars.
Mario Batali was fired from the show in December following sexual misconduct allegations, and Daphne Oz announced her departure shortly before that in August. Now, Carla Hall tells PEOPLE that with only herself, Michael Symon and Clinton Kelly on set, “nobody can hide.”
“With three people, you really can’t say, ‘Okay, those four will take care of it,'” says the author of the upcoming cookbook Carla Hall’s Soul Food. “You have to be engaged and I think we’ve become closer, because even when you have a cooking segment and it’s the three of us, everybody is joining in. It has been so much fun because we’ve had to raise the energy.”
Hall says that while all five hosts “were such good friends,” the three remaining are still having a blast, joking and laughing with each other from the start of the day.
“In the makeup room, Michael will come in and he’s talking to his dad or his mom on the phone every morning, and he will have a story,” she says. “So we know that during segment one, if Michael stands up, I want you to know at home, you’re in for a really good story.”
- RELATED: Giada De Laurentiis Opens Up About Her Friendship with Mario Batali Following Sexual Misconduct Allegations
The chef added that there are no plans to bring in a new host to her knowledge. “We are going to keep it at three and what we have found is that it leaves room for when we have guests,” she says. “You know, things happen in life and so we just make lemonade. We just get in there and we’re in it together.”
The Chew cohosts addressed Batali’s absence from the show in December by reading a statement to the viewers shortly after multiple women accused him of sexual misconduct. The next day, ABC announced they were terminating their relationship with Batali and that he would be leaving the show.
As a longtime friend to Batali, Hall revealed that she still speaks with him to check in. “He’s doing all the good work that he was doing before, and being reflective,” she says. “He’s such a good guy and all the other work that he’s done. He says he’s working on stuff, you know, as we all are. No one is perfect. We have challenges.”
As first reported by Eater, Batali was accused of groping several different women that involved “inappropriate touching in a pattern of behavior that spans at least two decades.” Three of the accusers worked for Batali, with one former employee claiming that he grabbed her from behind and pressed her against him repeatedly over the course of two years. Two others described incidents where Batali groped them.
Want the ultimate dish on the latest celebrity food news, plus exclusive recipes, videos and more? Click here to subscribe to the People Food newsletter.
In a statement to Eater following the allegations, Batali said: “I apologize to the people I have mistreated and hurt. Although the identities of most of the individuals mentioned in these stories have not been revealed to me, much of the behavior described does, in fact, match up with ways I have acted. That behavior was wrong and there are no excuses. I take full responsibility and am deeply sorry for any pain, humiliation or discomfort I have caused to my peers, employees, customers, friends and family.”