“The first female Iron Chef”
It’s no surprise that Cat Cora has become a world renowned chef. Her culinary aspirations began at an early age, and by 15, she had developed a business plan for her own restaurant. In 2005, she made television history on Food Network’s “Iron Chef America” as the first and only female Iron Chef, and in November 2006 Bon Appetit Magazine bestowed her with their Teacher of the Year Award, an award she calls, “the greatest recognition she could achieve as a chef.” That month, she was also honored with another great culinary distinction when she was named Executive Chef of the magazine. With restaurants at Macy’s South Coast Plaza, San Francisco and Houston’s airports and another at Walt Disney World, Cat’s bringing a taste of her culinary influence to both coasts.
Following advice from her famous mentor Julia Child, Cat left her native Mississippi for New York, where she received the education of her dreams at The Culinary Institute of America. Cat made her TV debut in 1999, as co-host of Food Network’s Melting Pot with Rocco Di Spirito. She went on to host My Country My Kitchen: Greece, Date Plate, and was one of the featured hosts on Fine Living’s Simplify Your Life. A documentary, Cat’s In The Kitchen, was also made about her first James Beard dinner in April, 2002.
Cat’s upbringing in Jackson, Mississippi’s intimate Greek community had an incalculable influence on her career. Raised by a family for whom cooking and eating were the center of life, meals at the Cora house often combined spices from the South with fresh cheeses and home-cured olives sent by relatives from the island of Skopelos. Her first cookbook, Cat Cora’s Kitchen was inspired by her Greek and Southern heritage and contains many of her family’s favorite recipes.
Outside the kitchen, Cat is known for her philanthropy. She is President and Founder of Chefs for Humanity, an organization that originated in response to the 2004 Tsunami disaster. Modeled after Doctors Without Borders, the not-for-profit gathers the culinary community together to raise funds and provide resources for important emergency, educational and hunger-related causes. Recognizing Cat’s altruistic determination in the food world, UNICEF named her a nutritional spokesperson to help raise awareness for humanitarian crises around the world.
In June 2010, Cat joined First Lady Michelle Obama as part of her Chefs Move To Schools campaign in an effort to provide nutritional guidance and education from professional chefs to schools nationwide. Cat is presently working on adopting an elementary school near her home in Santa Barbara, CA.