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Celebrity Chef Cat Cora Cooks from the Hip

Celebrity Chef

As the first female Iron Chef on the hit TV show Iron Chef America, Cat Cora cooked up a storm.

Cat Cora's Culinary Roots

Cat Cora grew up in Jackson, Mississippi in a small Greek community surrounded by Mediterranean and Southern style cooking. By the time she was 15, Cat aspired to top chef status and had already formulated a business plan for her own restaurant.

New York City was the jumping off point for Cat's culinary career. She worked there and studied at the Culinary Institute of America before jetting to Europe and apprenticing with two three-star Michelin chefs, George Blanc and Roger Verge. Cat returned to the U.S. several years later and accepted the position of chef de cuisine at Bistro Don Giovanni, located in northern California's Napa Valley.

Cat Cooks Up a Hot Culinary Career

Chef Cat Cora co-hosted Food Network's Melting Pot and Kitchen Accomplished and went on to host My Country My Kitchen: Greece, and Date Plate. Cat was one of the featured hosts on Fine Living's Simplify Your Life and her first James Beard dinner was featured in the documentary, Cat's In The Kitchen. Her first cookbook, Cat Cora's Kitchen, published shortly thereafter was inspired by her Greek and Southern heritage.

Cat Cora cemented her celebrity chef status in 2005, when she made culinary history as the first female Iron Chef on the Food Network TV show, Iron Chef America. In 2006, she was named executive chef of Bon Appétit Magazine. Chef Cora is also founder and president of Chefs for Humanity, a non-profit organization that provides, "nutrition education, hunger relief, and emergency and humanitarian aid to reduce hunger across the world," and is the spokesperson for UNICEF on nutrition.

What Will Cat Be Serving Up Next?

Now a California resident, Cat is hard at work on her signature 'World Flavors on Fire' BBQ restaurant, CCQ (short for Cat Cora's Que), which will be opening soon in Los Angeles. She recently released her second cookbook, Cooking From the Hip: Fast, Easy, Phenomenal Meals, which features creative new recipes from Watermelon Gazpacho to American Sushi. Cat continues to fire up the competition on Iron Chef. "When I first started, I had no idea of the position that I would be in today," she reflected in a recent interview. "But it's been such an incredible ride, and I love it."