Cat Cora

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Cat Cora
Cora in April 2010
Born (1967-04-03) April 3, 1967 (age 57)
United States
EducationUniversity of Southern Mississippi
Culinary Institute of America
Height4 ft 11 in (1.49 m)
Jennifer Cora
(m. 2013; div. 2015)
(m. 2018; div. 2021)
Culinary career
Cooking styleMediterranean (Greek), Fusion ("Hellasian"),[1] French
Current restaurant(s)
    • Cat Cora's Que, Costa Mesa, CA (2008–present),
    • Cat Cora's Kitchen, San Francisco, CA (2011–present),
Previous restaurant(s)
    • Kouzzina by Cat Cora, Orlando, Florida (2009–2014),
      * Cat Cora's Kitchen, Atlanta, Georgia (2016–2020)
WebsiteOfficial website

Catherine Ann Cora (born April 3, 1967) is an American professional chef, television personality, business person, and cookbook author. She is best known for her featured role as an "Iron Chef" on Iron Chef America[2] and as co-host of Around the World in 80 Plates.

Early life and education[edit]

Cora was born "Melanie" on April 3, 1967 to Joanne, an unwed teenage mother from Greenwood, Mississippi, and Knox, from Belzoni, Mississippi.[3][4][5][6] Adopted at the age of one week, she grew up as the daughter of Virginia Lee (née Brothers) and Spiro "Pete" Cora in Jackson, Mississippi.[7][8] Her adoptive father was of Greek descent (his parents being from Skopelos, Greece, himself born in Greenville, Mississippi only two months after they had arrived in America).[9][10] Her grandfather and father were both restaurateurs. When she was 15 years old, she brought a business plan to her father and grandfather, knowing they could help her.[2]

After earning her Bachelor of Science degree in Exercise Physiology and Biology from the University of Southern Mississippi, she enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York where she graduated in 1995.[7][11]

Television and entertainment career[edit]

Cora made her TV debut in 1999 as co-host with chef Rocco DiSpirito of Food Network’s Melting Pot.[12][13][14] In 2001, Cora appeared on the documentary television series, My Country, My Kitchen, in the episode Greece, Date Plate.[14] She appeared on the television series Simplify Your Life (2002);[15] and was a co-host of the Food Network show Kitchen Accomplished (2004).[16]

Cora made television history in 2005 as the first female Iron Chef, joining Bobby Flay, Mario Batali and Masaharu Morimoto on the first season of Food Network's Iron Chef America, spending 10 seasons on the show.[17][16] In 2008, she had a voice role for the video game Iron Chef America: Supreme Cuisine.

Cora is the co-host of Around the World in 80 Plates, an American reality competition show that premiered on May 9, 2012 on the Bravo cable TV network.[18]

Cora co-hosted the 2017 FOX reality cooking series My Kitchen Rules.[19] Cora competed in the 2021 Second Annual Guy Fieri's Tournament of Champions on the Food Network, narrowly losing to Michael Voltaggio.[20]


In 2008, Cora opened Cat Cora's Que (CCQ), a restaurant in Costa Mesa, California.[21][22]

A number of airports across the United States feature Cat Cora's Kitchen and Cat Cora's Gourmet Markets which were opened in 2011 and 2012, including at George Bush International Airport (IAH) in Houston, San Francisco International Airport (SFO), Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), and Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC). The eponymous Cat Cora's Kitchen,[23] a bar and lounge-style restaurant, opened at Terminal 2 at San Francisco International Airport in April 2011. Later in 2011, a Cat Cora's Kitchen was opened in Terminal E of the Bush Intercontinental Airport.

Cora operated Kouzzina by Cat Cora at Disney's Boardwalk Resort at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, which closed on September 30, 2014.[24][25]

Cora opened The Ocean Restaurant at the S.E.A. Aquarium at Resorts World Sentosa off Singapore in February 2013.[22] The 63-seat restaurant is inside the world's largest oceanarium.

Since 2016, she has a partnership with Aramark, providing dining options in businesses, universities, schools, hospitals and sports stadiums under the names Olilo and Wicked Eats.[26] As of 2022, there are more than 500 Olilo locations in the United States.[citation needed]

She is Executive Chef for Bon Appétit magazine.[when?][27]


  • Cat Cora's Que (CCQ), Costa Mesa, California (2008–present)
  • Cat Cora's Kitchen, San Francisco, California (2011–present)
  • Cat Cora's Kitchen, Salt Lake City, Utah (2012–)[28]
  • The Ocean Restaurant, Sentosa, Singapore (2013–present)
  • Mesa Burger, Santa Barbara, California (2016–present)[29][30]
  • Mesa Burger, Goleta, California (2019–present)
  • Mesa Burger, Montecito, California (2020–present)[31][32]
  • Cat Cora's Gourmet Markets


  • Kouzzina by Cat Cora, Orlando, Florida (2009–2014)
  • Cat Cora's Kitchen, Houston, Texas (2011–2019)
  • Cat Cora's Kitchen, Atlanta, Georgia (2016–2020)[33]

Partnerships and business[edit]

Cat Cora's Kitchen, a restaurant at Terminal E of George Bush Intercontinental Airport

Her first cookbook, Cat Cora's Kitchen (2004), was inspired by her Greek heritage and Southern roots, and contains numerous recipes that were her family's favorites while she was growing up.[34]

Her partnerships with various corporations include: Macy's, when in 2008 they opened Cat Cora's Que (CCQ), a restaurant in Costa Mesa, California;[21] Disney, when in 2010 they launched a series of webisodes called The Muppets Kitchen with Cat Cora;[35] and a number of airports across the United States Cat Cora's Kitchen and Cat Cora's Gourmet Markets were opened in 2011 and 2012 (including George Bush International Airport in Houston, San Francisco International Airport, and Salt Lake City International Airport).

In 2006 she was hired as a paid spokesperson for InSinkErator Evolution series garbage disposals.[36]

In June 2010, she joined Michelle Obama working with her Chefs Move To Schools campaign.[37]

In 2011 she launched her own line of cookware in conjunction with Starfrit, Canada's leading purveyor of food preparation products.[38]

In the September 2006 issue of FHM, Cora was featured in the cooking section, where she demonstrated various recipes using items purchased from a convenience store. Cat Cora also belongs to Macy's Culinary Councils, along with Tyler Florence, Rick Bayless, and others. She has worked as an entertainer for The Olivia Companies, a travel company catering to the lesbian market.[39]

In October 2014, Cora launched her own line of hummus at H-E-B grocery stores in Texas.[40]


She was a UNICEF spokesperson.[when?][41] She has participated in charity wine auctions held by Auction Napa Valley.[42]

In January 2005, following the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, Cora co-founded Chefs For Humanity.[43][44] The organization Chefs For Humanity describes itself as "a grassroots coalition of chefs and culinary professionals guided by a mission to quickly be able to raise funds and provide resources for important emergency and humanitarian aid, nutritional education, and hunger-related initiatives throughout the world."[45]


  • Bon Appetit magazine's 2006 Teacher of the Year Award[34]
  • On July 12, 2015 Cora was inducted into the American Academy of Chefs® (AAC®) Hall of Fame by The American Culinary Federation, becoming the first female chef ever to receive this recognition.[46]

Personal life[edit]

Cora was a victim of child sexual abuse from when she was 6 years old to when she was 10 or 11. Her assaulter was nine years older than her.[6]

In March 2006, Cora was the Grand Marshal for Hal and Mal's St. Paddy's Parade in her hometown of Jackson, Mississippi.[47]

Cora was arrested for driving under the influence in 2012.[48] Following a collision in which she rear-ended the car in front of her, the other driver reported to the officers that she believed Cora was drunk. Cora was placed under arrest and given a breathalyzer test that revealed her BAC to be .20 and .19, over twice the legal limit of .08. She pled no contest to the charges and was sentenced to 3 years probation, $2,386 in fines, and a suspended 120-day jail sentence. She released a statement after her arrest, saying: "I deeply regret my decision to drive that evening after my designated driver became unavailable. I learned a very important lesson from this experience and take full accountability for my actions. This will never happen again."[48][49]

Cora married her longtime partner Jennifer in June 2013,[50] and the couple have four sons together conceived via in vitro fertilization.[51][52] In 2015, they filed for divorce[53] which was finalized in 2016.[54]

In 2017, Cora began dating record producer executive Nicole Ehrlich. They married on April 21, 2018, in Islamorada, Florida.[55] On April 26, 2021, Nicole Ehrlich filed for divorce from Cora.[56][57]


Year Title Role Notes
1999 Melting Pot (Food Network) Herself [13]
2001 My Country, My Kitchen Herself [14]
2002 Simplify Your Life Herself [15]
2004 Kitchen Accomplished Host [15][16]
2005–2012 Iron Chef America Iron Chef [15][58]
2006 Celebrity Cooking Showdown Herself
2007 Chef's Story Herself
2007 The Next Food Network Star Guest Judge
2008 The Next Iron Chef Guest Judge
2009–present The Best Thing I Ever Ate Herself
2010 MasterChef (U.S. TV series) Guest Judge
2011 Top Chef: Just Desserts Guest Judge
2012 Top Chef Guest Judge
2012 Around the World in 80 Plates Co-host [18]
2012 Chopped All-Stars Contestant
2012 Miss USA 2012 Judge
2013 Eastbound & Down Guest Chef
2013–present Guy's Grocery Games Herself
2014 America's Best Cook Mentor
2014 Food Fighters (TV series) Herself
2015 Cutthroat Kitchen Guest Judge
2017 My Kitchen Rules (U.S.) Co-host [13]
2017 Bong Appetit (U.S.) Guest Chef
2019 Family Food Fight (U.S.) Judge
2021–present Guy Fieri's Tournament of Champions Herself [20]
2022 “The Real Dirty Dancing” Herself
2023 ”Stars on Mars”“Stars on Mars” Herself


  1. ^ "A Conversation with Cat Cora: Iron Chef, Restaurateur, Entrepreneur, Mom". Food Channel. 2011-06-26. Retrieved 2022-06-27.
  2. ^ a b Yancey, Kitty Bean. "'Iron Chef' Cat Cora is out of the bag", USA Today, March 31, 2006.
  3. ^ Cora, Cat (2015). Cooking as Fast as I Can. Scribner. ISBN 978-1-4767-6616-4.
  4. ^ "Cat Cora's Transformation Is Seriously Turning Heads". Mashed. 2021-05-19. Retrieved 2023-08-01.
  5. ^ "Cat Cora shares stories of struggle and triumph". The Oracle. 2018-03-20. Retrieved 2023-08-01.
  6. ^ a b "Cat Cora". AJC Decatur Book Festival. Retrieved 2023-08-01.
  7. ^ a b Cristo, Carmen (August 19, 2014). "Cat Cora". Jackson Free Press. Retrieved 2022-06-24.
  8. ^ Yancey, Kitty Bean (April 5, 2006). "What's Cookin' with 'Iron Chef' Cat Cora". Tucson Citizen. USA Today. Archived from the original on 2009-02-04.
  9. ^ "Iron Chef Cat Cora Aligns with Greek Food Line". The Food Channel. January 19, 2011. Retrieved June 22, 2020.
  10. ^ "Spiro Cora Obituary (2011)". Clarion Ledger. September 2, 2011. Retrieved 2022-06-24.
  11. ^ "Cora, Cat". Culinary Institute of America. Retrieved 2022-06-24.
  12. ^ Schrodt, Paul (June 18, 2019). "How Iron Chef Cat Cora Went from Blue-Collar Mississippi to Running a Cooking Empire". Money. Retrieved 2022-06-24.
  13. ^ a b c "Cat Cora: Her Kitchen Rules". January 13, 2017. Retrieved 2022-06-24.
  14. ^ a b c "There's a Cat in the Kitchen – a quick Q&A with Chef Cat Cora". Coachella Valley Weekly. 2015-03-26. Retrieved 2022-06-24.
  15. ^ a b c d Cathey, David. "Cat Cora Coming to OKC". The Oklahoman. Retrieved 2022-06-24.
  16. ^ a b c Hanrahan, Kathy (April 13, 2005). "First woman Iron Chef has dual heritage". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Retrieved 2022-06-24.
  17. ^ McCue, Matt. "The first female Iron Chef: How I overcame sexism in the kitchen". Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  18. ^ a b Brown, Rob (March 17, 2012). "Episode Guide". Bravotv. Archived from the original on March 31, 2012. Retrieved March 17, 2012.
  19. ^ Petski, Denise (May 13, 2016). "Fox Orders 'My Kitchen Rules' Cooking Series With Curtis Stone & Cat Cora". TV Tonight. Retrieved May 16, 2016.
  20. ^ a b "Tournament of Champions Season 2 episode 4 preview: Quarterfinals await". FoodSided. 2021-03-28. Retrieved 2022-06-24.
  21. ^ a b "Cat Cora in SoCal: Iron Chef Cat Cora mentioned her…". NBC Los Angeles. September 18, 2008. Retrieved 2022-06-24.
  22. ^ a b Fontana, Christine (2009-05-04). "The Cat's Meow". New Orleans Living Magazine. Retrieved 2022-06-24.
  23. ^ "T2 Concessions". May 1, 2011. Archived from the original on May 9, 2011. Retrieved May 6, 2011.
  24. ^ "Kouzzina by Cat Cora to close on September 30, 2014",, March 24, 2014.
  25. ^ "Cat Cora's restaurant at Disney World closing". Orlando Sentinel. March 24, 2014.
  26. ^ Cook, Pam (2019-06-27). "Iron Chef, Cat Cora on the Gary Rivers Show". News-Talk 1480 WHBC. Retrieved 2022-06-24.
  27. ^ Cat Cora Named Executive Chef of Bon Appétit Magazine Archived 2007-03-11 at the Wayback Machine, PR Newswire, August 9, 2006.
  28. ^ "Cat Cora's Kitchen opens at SLC Airport". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 2022-06-24.
  29. ^ Moran, Rita. "Restaurant review: Cat Cora's Mesa Burger". Ventura County Star. Retrieved 2022-06-24.
  30. ^ "BizHawk: Mesa Burger Combines Gourmet, Fast-Casual Concepts in New Santa Barbara Restaurant". 16 December 2016. Retrieved 2022-06-24.
  31. ^ "Mesa Burger opens in Montecito". Retrieved 2022-06-24.
  32. ^ "Mesa Burger Opens on Coast Village Road". Montecito. 2020-07-23. Retrieved 2022-06-24.
  33. ^ Fuhrmeister, Chris (February 2020). "Collapsed ceiling closes Atlanta airport restaurant".
  34. ^ a b "Cat Cora". HuffPost. Retrieved 22 June 2020.
  35. ^ "Healthy, Delicious Dinners the Muppets Way". September 15, 2010. Retrieved 2022-06-24.
  36. ^ Rovito, Rich. "Elevating the garbage disposal", The Business Journal of Milwaukee, July 28, 2006.
  37. ^ "Cora stumps for healthier school meals". April 10, 2012. Retrieved 2022-06-24.
  38. ^ "Cat Cora by Starfrit 12-Inch Hard Anodized Non-Stick Fry Pan Review". Good Housekeeping. The Good Housekeeping Institute. 2012-12-13. Retrieved 2022-06-24.
  39. ^ "The Olivia Companies". Retrieved September 23, 2010.
  40. ^ Hoffman, Ken (2014-10-20). "Cat Cora's empire expands in Houston". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2022-06-24.
  41. ^ "Chefs for Humanity president Cat Cora joins UNICEF as spokesperson" Archived 2007-09-27 at the Wayback Machine, UNICEF, January 20, 2006.
  42. ^ "Auction Napa Valley". Archived from the original on April 28, 2007. Retrieved September 23, 2010.
  43. ^ "A Chef for Humanity". Industry Today, Volume 4, Issue 3. 2008. Retrieved 2022-06-24.
  44. ^ Bryan, Meredith (July 2011). "The Family That Eats Together: Cat Cora Cooks at Home". Retrieved 2022-06-24.
  45. ^ Chefs For Humanity: Home page Archived August 15, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  46. ^ Cora, Cat. "Celebrity Chef Cat Cora Becomes First Female Inducted into The Culinary Hall of Fame". (Press release). Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  47. ^ Lucas, Sherry. "Iron Chef to lead Mal's St. Paddy's Day Parade", The Clarion-Ledger, January 1, 2006.[permanent dead link]
  48. ^ a b "Celebrity chef Cat Cora avoids jail time for DUI". 20 August 2012. Retrieved 2022-06-24.
  49. ^ "Cat Cora Arrested for DUI, Takes Nice Mug Shot". July 11, 2012. Retrieved 2022-06-24.
  50. ^ Machado, Baker (10 November 2015). "Iron Chef's Cat Cora Files for Divorce From Wife After 17 Years Together". Retrieved November 11, 2015.
  51. ^ Belge, Kathy. "Cat and Jennifer Cora". Archived from the original on January 17, 2013. Retrieved August 14, 2010.
  52. ^ "Cat Cora Describes Her Unusual Path to Parenthood". Retrieved December 3, 2022.
  53. ^ McRady, Rachel (2015-11-09). "Iron Chef America's Cat Cora, Wife Jennifer File for Divorce: Details". Us Weekly. Retrieved 2021-03-28.
  54. ^ "The Truth About Cat Cora's Split from Her Wife, Nicole". 29 June 2022.
  55. ^ "Cat Cora and Nicole Ehrlich Are Married". Us Weekly. 2018-04-21. Retrieved 2019-11-17.
  56. ^ "Celebrity Chef Cat Cora's Wife Files for Divorce".
  57. ^ Todisco, Eric (May 3, 2021). "Iron Chef Cat Cora's Wife Nicole Files for Divorce After 3 Years of Marriage". People. IAC. Retrieved February 27, 2022.
  58. ^ Couture, Peter (January 12, 2005). "Redubbed "Iron Chef' loses some flavor". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 2022-06-24.

External links[edit]