Catherine Ann "Cat" Cora is an American professional chef best known for her featured role as an "Iron Chef" on the Food Network television show Iron Chef America and as co-host of Around the World in 80 Plates on Bravo.
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My short bio: As a prominent figure in the culinary community, Cat Cora made television history in 2005 when she became the first female Iron Chef on Food Network’s Iron Chef America. Since then, Cora has continued to evolve her craft to become an accomplished author, restaurateur, contributing editor, avid philanthropist and television host.
Best food (10/10) with rice?
For me, it's Thai curry
How big a priority is reducing food wastage for you?
I'm like the police around my house and restaurant-- I've been to so many developing countries from my charity, and i've seen so much poverty that I won't stand for it when it's not necessary.
When doing a show and losing with a dish do you still eat that dish or do you stay away from it because it cost you the win?
Sometimes I'll give that dish the silent treatment but we always make up :)
There has been a bit of press around restaurant critics the last couple days. What do you think of their writing and their power?
We all know that critics can make or break a restaurant, so one person who has that much power should write an honest review, but when it get's nasty, that has crossed the line
Does the rest of the food that's cooked in the Iron Chef contests get eaten?
Yep, everything is eaten by the staff behind the scenes
What's the best and worst thing you've ever cooked?
What would you most like to try?
Who in the professional chef world do you like and dislike the most?
The worst thing I ever cooked was a French Custard-- it hadn't set yet, so I turned up the heat and it turned into a frisbee!
The best thing was probably a dish on the Iron Chef because it was on the fly, under pressure, and when they come out great, it's REALLY great
Anthony Bourdain once called me out, and I told him that if he stepped into the kitchen stadium I would kick his a** and he backed off, ha!
There are several professional chefs that I really love, shout out to you guys!
What'd you have for lunch?
I haven't had it yet-- breakfast was a green juice, coffee and a banana!
What is your go-to comfort food when it's cold/snowy/rainy outside and you don't feel like cooking?
I loved a great lamb shank in a slow cooker
What's your favourite holiday food?
Roasted Crab on Christmas Eve, and I love all of the side dishes for Thanksgiving and Christmas-- I could make a whole meal of side dishes
What elegant dish could you make out of the following three ingredients?
1) A glass of water!
3) A second glass of water!
Floating squid and water ;)
Hi Cat! You've been on a multitude of cooking competition shows. Which would you say is the most difficult? What was the most difficult ingredient you were given to cook with?
The most difficult ingredient was barracuda-- it's a really gnarly fish, very dry
The most difficult competition was the Iron Chef competition, there were so many great chefs from all over the world
What's the closest approximation you can get to the taste/texture of deep frying, but healthy?
I do a lot of fish and chicken, and I like to bake (fry) with cornflakes or panko bread crumbs and buttermilk for the crispy texture and flavor we all love
What do you use a microwave for?
The only things I use the microwave for is reheating my coffee and defrosting
Is there any frozen/packaged food that holds up to made-from-scratch? Any you can stand eating?
Things like frozen berries are great for smoothies and pie crusts are great when you don't have a ton of time
What is your opinion of the show masterchef on Fox?
Do you agree with the winner choices?
What was it like on cutthroat kitchen?
Cutthroat Kitchen is complete and utter chaos! But it's the most fun chaos possible, so awesome!
How can you preserve cilantro? I have bought it dried, and in a tube, frozen it from fresh - and it has no flavor. It is fresh or nothing? I never need the full package in the two weeks it stays edible.
I'm not a big fan of frozen herbs and cilantro is one of the hardest to freeze-- when you have extra you should make it into a great sauce like pesto then try freezing the sauce to keep that great flavor
What are your hobbies and interests outside of cooking? Favorite country you've visited?
I love fitness, like surfing, I love reading, and spending time with my kids.
One of my very favorite countries is Thailand-- the food, culture, and people is some of the best I've ever experienced
Hi Cat. I have food commandments. Tell me if you agree.
Is it borderline atrocious to serve canned whipped cream with desert?
If you run a restaurant and you serve french fries anyway other than Belgian style, double fried, you should be shut down?
Pot pie is only pot pie if it's completely enclosed in a crust. Agree?
What's your favorite thing to cook ?
Well, that's my favorite question!
It depends on the day, season, and sometimes it comes down to the hour! Right now, my favorite thing is homemade mustard for gifts
Does your refined palate interfere in social situations? Is it hard to 'suffer fools' when it comes to bad cooks?
I'm impressed when someone has the balls to cook for me! I can be forgiving when I'm not behind the stove
Will you teach your kids how to cook?
We've been teaching our kids to cook since they could get on a stool-- yes, absolutely
Do you have a secret recipe you'll never share?
It used to be my grandmother's mustard, but that got leaked to the internet. My secret is still safe ;)
Why did you kick Ernie Hall off of America's Best Cook? He was clearly the best.
You're right-- he was a great cook! I was a mentor on the show, did I kick him off or did the judges?
Do you have a super secret technique for quickly chopping onions? What about garlic?
I chop onions the old-fashioned way, if you want a short cut you could probably get one of those chopper gadgets
What is your view on the Christian faith? Jesus legit or nah?
I am a Christian and I do think Jesus is legit, but I can also appreciate all religious freedoms without any judgement. Everyone should have the right to believe in whatever they want to believe in
What's the best way to cook a steak? Any tips?
The best way to cook a steak for me is grilling it.
If it's a great steak, it doesn't need anything but sea salt and cracked pepper, maybe a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. I like it with a fresh squeeze of lemon right when you take it off the grill.
any other good slow cooker recipes?
Every time I try, I end up with different varieties of stew.
You can do a lot of things in a slow cooker-- you can do chili, you can braise lamb shanks, I've ever braised chicken. You can even make some great desserts in a slow cooker
If you had to choose eating good home cooked meals (that you cook) or great restaurant meals (that someone else cooks) for the remainder of your life, what would you choose?
As nice as great restaurant meals are, I'd rather cook my own meals for the rest of my life
Hi Cat! I love your book so far. Will you be doing a book signing in Seattle? Oysters!
I love Seattle and I hope to do a signing soon-- nothing on the schedule yet. Crossing my fingers for the spring!
He was eliminated at the end of the first episode. IIRC, you had four contestants and had to choose two to continue.
Ernie Hall had it all. An interesting background (Marine Corps veteran), charisma, and above all he was so talented. I was hoping he would win the whole thing
In the heat of the moment, we had to make a split decision and I'm sure at the time something swayed me one way or the other. But I'm sure you're right!
How do you make the perfect sandwich?
I love a great Toasted Sandwich - toast the bread lightly, use a little butter or olive oil to toast in a pan, then take some great turkey, swiss, pepper cheese, my homemade sweet mustard, a little smidge of mayo, a little salt & pepper, and to me that's a perfect sandwich.
My guilty pleasure sandwich is all of the same ingredients plus my secret-- BBQ crunchy chips. Press it down a little bit and crunch away
What is your favorite eat out guilty pleasure?
My son just yelled out "LOS ARROYAS!" where we get loaded nachos!
Then again, eating a meal at the Cora household is like eating a great meal every night, so it's not like my feeble attempts at a stew...
If you could face off against any chef in the iron chef competition...who and why?
Morimoto- he is the best, and he would be the biggest competition
What is your favorite vegetarian meal to prepare?
One of my favorites is a great roasted mushroom taco with romesco sauce
Where do you look for inspiration on new dishes? Friends, family, other chefs?
Do you often revisit dishes to see what can be improved or changed or do you leave dishes as is?
I find inspiration in other chefs, and also in my travels around the world.
Sometimes dishes are so perfect as they are that I don't mess with them, but if there's some way that I can change it or make it better then I will
Ok...but you're a professional chef. Surely you can't be adovcating that canned whipped cream is better? Making it from scratch really isn't that difficult, and the difference, to me, is mindblowing. Surely if I go somewhere and drop more than 5 dollars on dessert, it's not unreasonable to expect that they have at least a hand mixer, a bowl, some vanilla, and fresh cream? It literally takes five minutes.
I agree, it's not better than homemade, but sometime's it's just fun!