Celebrity Chef of the Month: Cat Cora

Last fall, at Chicago Gourmet, we got the opportunity to meet lil’ Ms. Cat Cora. Even though my husband is 6’3″ and I am 5’9″, we appear to be giants next to Cat. Just how cute is she? Adorable, with a personality to match. Sweet, friendly, funny…we talked a little with her about being friends with Anthony Bourdain and how she would take him down in Kitchen Stadium anytime! Being the only female chef on Iron Chef America, that little body is packed full of toughness. I’d watch it if I were you Anthony.

This Greek American is no stranger to the cooking realm. Though born in Mississippi, Cat grew up in a Greek community where her father and grandfather were both in the restaurant business. Using them as mentors, she proposed a business plan to them by the age of fifteen. From there, she went on to receive a degree at the University of Southern Mississippi and at the Culinary Institute of America in New York. Blending her Greek and Southern roots, Cat’s cuisine has satisfied many. Hellasian is term she has also coined to describe a fusion of Greek and Asian cooking.

Aside from working with the Food Network and being the Executive Chef for Bon Appetit magazine, in 2009 she partnered with Walt Disney World by opening her Boardwalk Inn restaurant, Kouzzina.  Not only has Ms. Cora found television success, but is also involved in many humanitarian efforts. She is a co-founder of Chefs for Humanity, a UNICEF spokesperson, participates in charity wine auctions and was also given the Hero Visibility Award by the Human Rights Campaign in 2008. Busy much?

In 1999, she married her wife, Jennifer. They currently live in California with their four boys, Zoran, Caje, Thatcher and Nash.

Cat was so personable. It was like talking with someone you haven’t seen in a long time. We were very happy when she gladly signed our copy of her latest cookbook, Cat Cora’s Classics with a Twist. Full of some of her favorite dishes, she also includes side notes on how to prepare the same recipes in a jazzed up style.

For the month of April, I’ll be trying out some of her “jazzier” recipes from this cookbook and let you know just how well we like (or dislike) some of Cora’s creations!

“Even a dish you’ve made a thousand times has room for a little creativity, so blast the boredom out of your kitchen. Don’t limit yourself to just one way of doing things – keep yourself open to having a little fun while you cook. If variety is the spice of life, then bring on the variety – and the spice!” – Cat Cora

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