Cat Cora ’95 is a chef, television personality, author, contributing
editor, restaurateur, lifestyle entrepreneur, and the first-ever female
Iron Chef on Food Network’s Iron Chef America. Raised in
Jackson, MS, Cat comes from a long line of culinarians. After earning a
bachelor of science degree in exercise physiology and biology from the
University of Southern Mississippi, Cat set her sights on the world’s
premier culinary college.
After attending The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, Cat worked for Chef Anne Rozenweig and Chef Larry Forgione ’74, staged
in France with Georges Blanc and Roger Vergé, and worked under Chef
Melissa Kelly ’88. She was chef de cuisine at Napa Valley’s Bistro Don
Giovanni and executive chef and partner of Postino in Lafayette, CA. In
August 2006, Cat was named the executive chef for Bon Appétit magazine. In November of the same year, Bon Appétit gave Cat their Teacher of the Year Award, an accolade she calls, “the greatest recognition I could achieve as a chef.”
Cat made her TV debut in 1999 as co-host of Food Network’s Melting Pot with Rocco Di Spirito ’86. She went on to host My Country My Kitchen: Greece, Date Plate, and co-host Around the World in 80 Plates. She has hosted, judged, and appeared on numerous hit shows including NBC’s Celebrity Cooking Showdown; Food Network’s America’s Best Cook, Cutthroat Kitchen, Chopped All-Stars, and The Next Iron Chef;, and Bravo’s Top Chef and Master Chef; to name a few.
In March 2010, Cat was honored by the CIA with an Augie™ award as Alumna of the Year. In November 2012, Cat was the 25th chef and first female chef to be inducted into The Culinary Hall of Fame. Cat has been a commencement speaker at the CIA’s Hyde Park campus and at the Singapore campus.
Along with all her other accomplishments, Cat has numerous
restaurants: The Ocean Restaurant at the S.E.A. Aquarium at Resorts
World Sentosa in Singapore; Cat Cora’s Kitchen and Gourmet Markets at
the San Francisco, Salt Lake City, and Bush International Airports; Kouzzina by Cat Cora at Disney World; CCQ at Macy's; Postino in San Francisco; and
Cat Cora’s Taproom in the Detroit Metro Airport. In 2015, Cat and
business partner Chris Chiarappa opened Mesa Burger in Santa Barbara.
Cat developed a pop-up restaurant, Olilo by Cat Cora, an exclusive
pop-up concept for Aramark’s business dining clients. It is currently in
30+ states. Her latest collaboration with Aramark is Wicked Eats by
Cat Cora, which includes street foods from Greece, Morocco, Spain, and
the Middle East.
In 2018, Cat partnered with WW (Weight Watchers) on a first-of-its-kind food destination inside the Barclay Center in Brooklyn, called WW Freestyle Cafe: BKLYN.
Cat has authored four cookbooks, Cat Cora’s Kitchen, Classics with a Twist, Cooking from the Hip, and Cooking as Fast as I Can: A Chef’s Story of Family, Food, and Forgiveness, which chronicles the difficulties and triumphs Cat experienced on the path to becoming a chef.
Outside the kitchen, Cat is known for her philanthropy and speaking out about mental health issues in the hospitality industry. She is
president and founder of Chefs for Humanity, an organization that
originated in response to the 2004 Tsunami disaster. UNICEF has named
her nutritional spokesperson to help raise awareness for humanitarian
crises around the world.