Iron Chef

All About the First Lady of Iron Chef America: Cat Cora

February 8, 2011 at 4:51 pm , by

Most notoriously known as Food Network’s first and only female Iron Chef on Iron Chef America (Sundays at 10pm/9c), Cat Cora knows a thing or two about multi-tasking in and out of the kitchen. She recently kicked back with us in the Ladies’ Lounge to talk food, family, and philanthropy! Dig in…

What is it like working/competing in the dominantly male ‘Kitchen Stadium’ on Iron Chef America? CC: It’s fast-paced, competitive, and all the chefs, male and female alike, are competitive fighters until the end. I’m proud to still be the one and only female Iron Chef, but will gladly welcome another female chef to join me.
(Any takers, ladies?)

What is the biggest curve ball you were thrown while in the middle of a challenge? CC: One battle that particularly sticks out in my mind was when they uncovered a whole hog that was not butchered, was still a little frozen, and was impossible to break down. They had to actually stop production to have them wheeled out to the butcher and brought back up to us to work with.
(Sounds like those pigs could have used a blanket!)

Do the battles get any less challenging as you do more of them? CC: Not at all! They are all still very intense and stressful, so the best technique as a chef is to just go with your gut. You don’t have time to second-guess yourself under that kind of pressure.

Some women face an equally stressful culinary challenge in their own kitchens: getting dinner on the table quickly without sacrificing nutrition – what’s your advice? CC: We grill out in the backyard a lot, which saves on time and everyone helping can play a part in getting dinner on the table faster. It also becomes an event the whole family can be part of. I give my kids a choice in the vegetable dish we’re having that night, not only to further involve them in the meal, but also to make sure they will be happy with what we’re having. We always eat with the seasons and follow a healthy, balanced lifestyle, so we’ve developed some staple recipes in our household that way.

Read about Cat’s healthy lifestyle, how she’s making the world a better place, and get her easy recipe for Japanese Udon Soup after the jump.

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How Cooking Connects Us to Our Families and Ourselves

April 22, 2010 at 10:55 pm , by

Severson headshot“The kitchen is where I learned all my lessons,” writes New York Times food writer Kim Severson in her memoir, Spoon Fed, which came out last week. In the book, which has hit the bestseller list already, Kim, a friend of mine—that’s her in the picture—writes about wisdom she’s gathered from celebrity chefs she’s come to know, like Rachael Ray and Alice Waters. Cooking, for Kim, is a way of connecting with those famous women, with her Italian-American midwestern mom, Anne Marie, and ultimately, with herself.

I can so relate. But for me, cooking isn’t so much about connecting with my mom, who cooks out of necessity and hates it—she’d rather be out raking the yard. It’s my way of knowing and connecting to my dad, who died when I was not quite two years old. And now, as a single mom, it’s my way of connecting my three-year-old son to his grandfather, to his male roots, and to all the food-loving southern relatives on that side of the family whom he may never get to know. For Scott and for me, cooking is a daily visit with the father and grandfather we never knew; a hands-on untangling of the mystery of our genes. Do you have a story of how cooking has helped you find your identity? After the jump, here’s mine. Read more