When sisters Ca'Bria Parker and Jazz'Myn McKenzie attended a USO cooking class for military families this June – which was hosted by celebrity chef and star of ABC’s “The Chew” Carla Hall – they couldn’t wait to recreate the dishes they learned in their home kitchen.
“That night [after the class] we went home and cooked [the dish she taught us for the rest of our family],” Ca'Bria said. “Carla was very friendly and nice and open and awesome. … It was just a great experience.”
“It was very nice because I got to see a famous person and cook with them and learn from them,” Jazz'Myn said. “And she also called me her ‘Mini-Me.’”
Ca'Bria and Jazz'Myn live near Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, with their father, Army Staff Sgt. Reginald McKenzie, mother, Patrica McKenzie, and brother, Dashiell McKenzie. The family places a premium on volunteerism, and has spent several hours helping out at USOs over the years.
The girls never thought they’d get another opportunity to cook alongside Hall again. Then the USO and “The Chew” called.
“The Chew” asked the McKenzies to travel to New York City and appear on the show’s season premiere. While on the show, the McKenzies cooked meat and veggies alongside Hall and other families.
“It was very organic, it felt very natural. Just like … cooking with old friends, you know, or extended family,” said Patrica McKenzie, who is an Navy veteran.
At one point during the episode, Hall asked the McKenzies about their life as a military family and how they deal with deployments, frequent moves and other issues unique to military life. Hall also shared her reflections on hosting USO events at military bases around the country.
The McKenzie’s received one more surprise while filming the episode: a $10,000 check from Ikea to renovate their home kitchen.
“It still feels kind of surreal," Patrica said. "It hasn’t really hit us.”