Kentucky priest could be Carla Hall’s Favorite Chef, but she won’t keep prize money

Episcopal Church Rector Karen Booth has sampled many foodie titles in her career from being a caterer, writer and judge. But despite her many titles, being in a food competition was missing.

That changed this summer, when the Georgetown priest entered the Carla Hall Favorite Chef competition.

Carla Hall, who gained fame through television shows “Top Chef” and “The Chew,” hosts the HBO cooking show, “Chasing Flavor.”

The winner of Hall’s Favorite Chef competition competition receives a $25,000 cash prize, the opportunity to cook with Hall and appear on the cover of Taste of Home magazine.

Favorite Chef is a summer-time competition allowing chefs in different groups to compete against each other for the opportunity to advance into the next round of competition. The competition is divided up into groups of chefs. Booth’s group started with around 60 chefs, and will move to five by the end of the June 20 voting period. Booth is currently second in her group.

“You get the title favorite chef, it’s not the best chef, it’s the favorite chef,” Booth said. “So it’s open to chefs, cooks and cooking enthusiasts.”

Cooking inspiration

Booth has always had a passion for cooking, and she has modeled her cooking off of other women in her life.

“My mother and my grandmother love to cook and they are great cooks,” Booth said. “I learned from some of the best at an early age and I just continued with it.”

Booth worked as a caterer through college as a side hustle and was the first food writer for Ace Magazine in Lexington.

“Food is very important, and if you love it, then you are around other people who love it and you like to talk about it,” Booth said. “Throughout my career, I’ve met amazing people in the industry, so that was the thing that appealed to me initially, there was already an appreciation there.”

Working with food through the church

Booth said she has worked full-time as the priest and rector for Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Georgetown for the past six years. It was there she tapped into her understanding of food issues and complexities and decided to grow her advocacy which helps fuel her passion for cooking.

“We look at the world around us and see where we see God at work, and then we try to help,” Booth said. “Holy Trinity helps feed the homeless, they feed children that have food insecurity. They seek to follow Christ in the world by serving others.”

Booth said she appreciates how the Episcopal Church tries to make sure food is vital in teachings.

“The Episcopal Church is active in food ministries and climate ministries and seeking out new ways of getting food to people,” Booth said. “Aquaponics is supported by several organizations in the church and they are taking it into different regions where it might not be easy to raise food.”

Booth has found that through participating in the competition, she can grow her advocacy work at the same time, noting that it has given her a platform to discuss food issues.

“We are working alongside groups who are thinking about the future and about food sustainability,” Booth said. “We are rethinking agrarian ministries and thinking more long term.”

Booth isn’t keeping the prize money for herself

If she wins, Booth is dedicated to donating the prize money to organizations committed to making an impact in food issues, two in particular.

First is World Central Kitchen, an organization providing food internationally during disaster situations.

“They’re so courageous out there,” Booth said. “They were here in Kentucky when we had the floods in Eastern Kentucky, and they’re in Gaza right now feeding people.”

The second organization is FoodChain, a local service providing fresh food education and sustainable food systems.

“Locally, FoodChain has an aquaponics farm,” Booth said. “They are really becoming part of the Lexington community educating and feeding people.”

Booth is not only using her platform to discuss her thoughts on agricultural issues, but also highlighting the other chefs among her in the competition that are also thinking about food related issues.

“On my Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, I am actually interviewing different groups of people who are thinking about agriculture and food in a new way,” Booth said. “I’m taking the summer to talk to people who are thinking about the future of food, and the importance of it. For some of these groups, it’s about how God is connected.”

How to vote in Carla Hall Favorite Chef competition

There are multiple ways to vote for Booth, including one free vote that requires a sign-in to Facebook to count. Other votes can be purchased with the proceeds benefiting the James Beard Foundation, an organization supported by Carla Hall Favorite Chef competition. Voting for the top five chefs ends on June 20, and voting details can be found on Booth’s favorite chef profile page at