“We needed a moderator,” Schneider says, remembering how Kelly — the previous co-host of TLC’s What Not to Wear — joined the cast. “We needed someone who was able to be the traffic cop, if you will, that if all things were going to hell in the kitchen, someone who could step up… and deal with the mechanics of the show.” Kelly’s tenure on the chat fest — which has included moments like his musical revue in Season 1 — has also created a de-facto identity for him on set: “He has become our home cook for the audience,” Schneider says. “His recipes are home recipes. He’s not a trained cook, but he embraces [it.]”
UP FOR ANYTHING
Symon is “a brilliant chef with mad skills,” Householder says, but what makes him an ideal Chew co-host is that “he’s the best about being the butt of a joke.” Whether it’s dressing up as the Easter Bunny, taking a pie to the face or engaging in a full-on dance contest with Clinton (photo to the left), “Michael will always embrace it and say, ‘Hell yeah. I’m in.'”
CARLA AS ROCKETTE
Hall “wants to experience everything in the best possible way,” Householder says, which means the co-host is perfect for taped packages like the ones in which she became part of the cast of the musicals Newsies and Mary Poppins, tried her hand at trapeze work and kicked up her heels with the iconic Radio City Music Hall Rockettes. “The audience loves to have her be their surrogate. It’s fun and always rewarding, because she just does it,” the EP adds. “The Rockettes made her choke up. She couldn’t believe that this was her. [She was like,] ‘I never thought in my life I’d have a chance to do this.'”
A little more than two months into The Chew‘s freshman run, a prop bed broke when Batali sat on it during a segment about eating Chinese food in your jammies. The audience roared. Schneider and Householder say they were mortified. “It was an unfortunate thing. It was really funny, but it was too new in our process,” Schneider says, still sounding a little traumatized. “We don’t go negative. We are a positive show. We don’t want people to feel bad, whether it be the audience or hosts or anybody… This was something where it made Mario uncomfortable, and you could see it, and we never want to do that. We never had planned going there.”
The gang’s 2013 group Halloween costume — the Spice Girls — was Oz’s idea, “and they won’t let her forget it, either,” Schneider says, laughing. Other years have seen Hall as Tina Turner, Batali as Donald Trump (in orange Crocs, naturally), Kelly as Grease‘s Sandy, Symon as Kim Kardashian and the entire group as the co-hosts of The View. “The past few seasons, we’ve had them pick names out of hat and have to pick the other person’s costume,” Householder explains. “So they have to think good and hard about what they’re dishing out, because they have to be able to take it.” She adds that no decisions about this year’s outfits have been made yet.