Hi reddit. My name is Cat Cora, and you probably know me best as the first female winner of Iron Chef.

I'm also an author, restauranteur, lifestyle entrepreneur, and mom to four boys. I founded Chefs For Humanity, which is an anti-hunger organization globally and we advocate and work for nutritional education in the U.S. (you can learn more about it here: http://www.catcora.com/home).

My latest project is America's Best Cook, on the Food Network (http://www.foodnetwork.com/shows/americas-best-cook.html). It airs 9 PM Eastern Time, Sundays, on the Food Network.

I'm here with Victoria to answer your questions so ask me anything.


I think that this has been fantastic, you have all had great questions and I loved talking to you today. Just keep following and supporting, I'm so appreciative and grateful.

Comments: 555 • Responses: 76  • Date: 

kerouac5318 karma

Have you ever thought "damn, I have a badass name for a chef."

cause seriously. bad. ass. name.

CatCora220 karma

Yeah, thanks! I think it's pretty cool too, you know? And I was lucky, i guess my parents named me right and I got that nickname in culinary school. One of my first restaurants I ran with Michael Curiello, he tagged me "Cat" so for my whole life I was called Cathy, a lot of people I know, my family, my wife, called me Cathy, and so when Michael called me "Cat" that was right before I got my Food Network show and got started on this journey.

KaneHau205 karma

What is your opinion of the Food Network slowly changing into the Game Network? It seems that more recent shows are no longer geared to learning cooking techniques, but rather game-style competition.

CatCora260 karma

I think that's just right now where the competition is. That's where the ratings are. So Iron Chef was obviously the first real competition show, and after that everyone was doing all these different shows, everyone else wanted to jump on the bandwagon. The reason people love cooking competitions is because it's two of America's favorite pastimes: cooking and sporting events.

ddt9181 karma

Have you and Stephanie Izard, the first lady Top Chef, ever talked about doing a Thelma & Louise style travel/cooking show?

CatCora245 karma

No, we haven't ! I love Stephanie and her cooking, but that's a great idea. I may actually pitch that.

the_pissed_off_goose172 karma

Do you and your wife ever regret being pregnant at the same time? I feel like that could have been quite the event at times.

CatCora343 karma

No, I don't think we ever regretted it. We'd do it all over again. Not for another set of babies, but we'd do it for our same set of children. We never had regrets doing it. Definitely there were tough times but it was pretty amazing. The hardest time was AFTER the pregnancy, the first PMS together was super-gnarly.

karmanaut140 karma

What mythical creature would be most difficult to cook and eat?

And, how would you prepare it?

CatCora369 karma

Probably a dragon, because first of all, you'd have to capture it, and my kids - since we have 4 boys - they were for a long time into dragons. And they breathe fire, so they'd be really tough to capture. And how gnarly that skin is, to get to the meat.

I'd probably do some barbecue dragon ribs, with a little olive oil, salt & pepper, then slather some bbq sauce on it. Spicy barbecued dragon ribs.

iamaAMAfan130 karma

Hello Cat!

What is one great dish every home cook should know how to make, and do you have any tips on making it?

CatCora375 karma

Oooh. Everyone should know how to make a great roasted chicken. It's something classic that everyone can do. And it's not going to break the budget in case you over or under cook it. And it's one of the first things that young chefs learn how to make, is how to roast a great chicken. That is one dish that everyone should know how to make. If you can do that, you can do a lot of other things.

I think the biggest tip is to really give it a good slathering of good olive oil, a really nice quality olive oil like a cold press. ALways look for cold press olive oil, that will always be high quality, good salt and pepper, and put lemon and various herbs, like thyme, parsley, oregano, rub that on th skin, and then after you squeeze the lemons over the chicken, then put the remainder leftover lemon inside the cavity of the chicken to infuse more citrus into it. And that will really keep your chicken nice and moist. Roast it slowly if you can, 350 degrees, for a good hour, hour and fifteen minutes. Keep basting with juices, the dripping juices, add some more olive oil, just to keep it moist.

CatCora162 karma

It'll get nice and brown if you follow that.

mindvault32 karma

And remember...if you're making a pot pie, roast your chicken, don't just buy one at the store. You can use the drippings to make the roux to thicken the stock you cooked the taters and carrots in :) Roast chickens are quite versatile (and don't taste like the shitty mealy nasty chicken you get on most salads).

CatCora60 karma

It's a really good method, to roast your own chicken. In fact, if I have roasted chicken leftover, I use it in a chicken salad and it's always so flavorful.

TahoeTweezer118 karma

I read that you are from Jackson, MS and also that you're a lesbian. When did you come out and did you receive any backlash from people in your hometown? I'm from the South too and tolerance isn't always our strongest attribute. Thanks

CatCora338 karma

I came out when I was 19 to my parents, it was after a really shitty blind date with a woman and it went awry, and I was just over the secret. So I went to my parents, I actually called my mom at a dinner party and asked to come home right away, and had a heart-to-heart with her, and it was the best thing I ever did. It was the hardest thing I ever had to do, but I'm glad I did. I was very lucky, even growing up in Mississippi, no one said anything to my face. And I have a strong personality, so when I came out, I held my head up high.

cellequisaittout112 karma

For foodies at home who don't have the funds to spend on a whole set of top-of-the-line ingredients and equipment, what are the top (say 5 or 10) items I should have in my kitchen (either ingredient or equipment)?

Thank you for joining us here!

CatCora194 karma

I would say the top 5 things:

  • have at least one good knife that is sharp, most accidents happen with a dull knife, that you love to use.
  • a decent set of pots & pans
  • a really great blender. If you're going to splurge on anything, get a really powerful blender or something similar to make great sauces.
  • For ingredients, just so you know, I always keep a bowl of great citrus - lemon, limes, oranges, tangerines - just so that I can enhance every single dish with a little citrus. That's a secret ingredient I always use every time in my food.
  • I have my own line of olive oils and ingredients, so I know they are authentic because they come directly from Greece. So investigate the quality of your olive oil.
  • Good vinegars too. Any kind of acid like vinegar or citrus has no fat, no calories, but it enhances the quality of your food like crazy.

ironchefguy80 karma


CatCora73 karma

I'd want somebody else to randomly pick someone else for me out of a hat, because they're all great and I can't choose just one.

stayonthecloud63 karma

Hi Cat. I appreciate the progress it shows that the big news here is that you're the first woman to win Iron Chef---and the fact that you're married to a woman doesn't even play into it. From someone who was coming out in high school when Ellen lost her sitcom over coming out... wow, how far we've come.

My question for you: How do you make eggplant work out really, really well? To where it's all melty and delicious and not bitter and tough at all? I've salted and let it sit around for a while but I don't think I've ever dealt with it right.

CatCora68 karma

Well, first thank you so much. We have come a long way. I would say it sounds like you're doing the right thing - salting really helps a lot. But possibly put some olive oil on your eggplant as well? And also make sure it's in season? That's an important part of eggplant, it has to be in season like all other produce, so that might be part of what goes on with the bitterness even after you salt it. And slice it, then roast it nice & slow, that will take some of the bitterness out as well, then dice or slice it, then bake it at 350 for 30-45 minutes so it's nice and done.

CatCora47 karma

If it's still bitter, try adding a few drops of agave to add some natural sweetness. it could just be the eggplant you're getting.

Whatsaspace55 karma

I love peanut butter! What's your favorite peanut butter based recipe, if you have one?

CatCora106 karma

OMG! I'm a peanut butter fanatic. If I could have one last food, it would probably be that, on a spoon. There's a great african food made with peanut butter that I love to make. African peanut stew, made with peanut butter and chicken, it's really really spicy.

CatCora59 karma

I'm obsessed with peanut butter too.

andrethecat54 karma

What is your go to chef's knife?

CatCora89 karma

I have my own set, it's german steel (which is the best steel) and they have walnut handles, really beautiful. Now that's all I use, is my own knives.

RoosterDog44 karma

What's the most bizarre thing you've ever eaten?

CatCora74 karma

Oh, I would definitely have to say fried bull testicles. Definitely the craziest thing that someone has cooked for me. It was pretty wild. They tasted like chicken? Everybody says that, so it's kind of a running joke, but anytime you taste something weird, it tasted like chicken. But it tasted like a little chicken meatball, because that's what it is. That's probably the oddest thing, and I've eaten alligator, and turtle, and things like that as well. I've eaten some really wild things, particularly in Asia.

forthelulzac44 karma

Hi, Cat! I love what you do and I think you're one of the most innovative chefs out there. What was your most challenging iron chef ingredient? Who was the most challenging competitor? Do you really only get an hour and when that thing rises, is that really the first time you see the secret ingredient? Does the iron chef pantry automatically have things like black truffles or really obscure things, or are those things you have to bring yourself?

Basically, how much of that and other cooking challenge shows are real?

CatCora112 karma

Thank you so much. The toughest Iron Chef ingredient I had were things that were not protein, like milk, coffee, butter, that you usually use within a dish, but they had to be the star of the dish. So those were the most challenging types of ingredients, versus chicken, or fish, or shrimp, something that's a protein.

Who I lost to with the largest lead was Will Shriver, who used to be the White House chef at the time and he smoked me.

Yes, we do know (and this is documented because Food Network did a documentary on behind the scenes) that we know it will be one of 4 or 5 ingredients, but we don't know which one until the chairman raises the top of the ingredient. And we do only get 60 minutes.

Well, there's a pantry that has lots of obscure things. They do have a lot of obscure things, not black truffles, but each chef also gets a $500 budget to bring in anything that they want to bring in. So if I wanted to spend $500 on one black truffle to bring in, I could do that.

I know for a fact that Iron Chef is real. And i know that Top Chef and Master Chef are real so for the most part, they are all legit shows. They are down and dirty competitions. They are really legit competitions and people are really battling it out.

PM_ME_AZNS36 karma

Ingredients: Chicken, Cream of Mushroom soup, and Hot sauce

What do you make

CatCora89 karma

I would say, honestly, put some pasta - take the chicken, sauté it, boil some elbow macaroni or penne pasta or something to that effect, let that boil, strain it, toss in the cream of mushroom soup and put it in a baking dish with the chicken, bake it at 400 degrees with grated parmesan on it for about 20 minutes, then serve it and go to town with your hot sauce on top.

melorun36 karma

Hey Cat! What is something about being on Iron Chef that you think would surprise the viewer at home?

CatCora61 karma

I think what would surprise viewers is how treacherous it can be, running round the stadium with knives and fire. People don't see all those moments, and there's definitely things that happen in kitchen stadium, people get cut and burned, but we're all pros so we take it in stride.

accioqueso35 karma

Hey Cat!

As a soon to be mom myself, I was just curious what are some dishes you love to cook for your boys. Also, growing up with such a talented chef for a mom do they enjoy exploring new foods or do you ever have to sneak veggies on their plates? Thanks!

CatCora80 karma

We don't sneak foods, we are honest about foods, we don't label it good or bad. Growing up, we started real young, when they started eating rice cereal, we'd add spices like cinnamon or ginger, and if you haven't don that, it's not too late, but you have to go with the rule I grew up with - try everything once, and start re-introducing foods in a few months. Don't ever give up, because my mom never did, and I turned out to be a chef. I continued to introduce foods, set a rule to try everything once, and get your kids involved in mealtime. Get them involved on whether it will be chicken or salmon tonight, corn or peas or broccoli, empower them to make decisions about the menu and they will be more likely to eat the food they've chosen.

We do things like great fajitas, fish tacos, edamame, we're doing comfort food too, like Friday night is pizza & movie night, it's a tradition I grew up with and we like to keep it going in our family. We like to mix it up.

emtee1835 karma

Hi Cat! I'm wondering if you ever experienced blatant sexism in the iron kitchen (or other professional experiences) and how you dealt with it. Thanks!

CatCora87 karma

No, never as an Iron Chef, I think at that point you've risen through the ranks high enough that it hasn't happened. My Iron Chefs have a deep respect for me and I for them. But coming up as a young cook and young student, absolutely, I experienced sexism during my career. I would just work my ass off and stay fierce.

gogojack33 karma

The amazing Cat Cora! I love watching your appearances on Craig Ferguson's show. Seems like a lot of fun.

Question: Without naming names, was there ever a "celebrity" judge on Iron Chef who you thought maybe wasn't entirely qualified to be judging a competition between chefs?

CatCora64 karma

Oh yes, there were several times when we would have celebrity judges that didn't know how to cook, or the best thing they would do would be to make reservations. You could definitely tell. It would be like if I were to judge Dancing with the Stars, without dancing. So you could definitely tell, and it was frustrating at times.

werdx32 karma

Why is Kouzzina in Disney World closing? I really enjoyed that restaurant.

CatCora64 karma

We're at the end of our contract, and Disney and I want to do more projects together. But this is a really great time for them to focus on a new concept in that space and I can focus on more restaurants around the world. It's all good, and I'll still be at the Epcot festival of food & wine this year.

Ewwiikk32 karma

While competing in Kitchen Stadium, which secret ingredient gave you the most trouble?

CatCora46 karma

I think it was when we had to butcher a whole hog, and that thing was bigger than two of me, that was probably the most challenging I've ever had.

Hisxlnc31 karma

Hey Cat, thanks so much for hanging out here.

What dish do you remember first making and feeling like you really climbed a mountain and succeeded at it? Like something that was tricky or used to intimidate you?

CatCora59 karma

I think really working with liquid nitrogen. I think that was something very monumental for me. I remember working with liquid nitrogen, because I wanted to use that on Iron Chef, and I was terrified. And once I made a great ice cream with it, and I really worked with it, it became so easy and I did feel like I'd climbed a mountain.

forthelulzac28 karma

How do you feel about vegetarians? I sometimes think that vegetarian cooking is more difficult, because you have to really conceptualize your main dishes, etc. But it seems like a lot of chefs sort of scoff at vegetarianism (I'm looking at you, Michael Symon).

CatCora76 karma

I'm a big fan of vegetarians, vegans, and gluten free, anybody who has dietary restrictions, I've always been their friend. I've always tried to cook for their communities. All of my restaurants pride ourselves on cooking for all types of people. We do vegetarian dinners at home too. I'm not one of those chefs.

jonproject25 karma

How does the Iron Chef challenge work in terms of portions for the judges? The competitors only ever make 1 of each dish but end up serving 5. How much time to you guys get to plate the remaining dishes? What about the person who is being judged second - how to you avoid serving cold food and congealed liquids?

Thanks! :)

CatCora38 karma

Well, that's the great challenge of Iron Chef, it's a coin toss about who gets to go first. And you have to decide which will be your strategy. That is where the game gets good, because you've done the battle, you've cooked the food, but you have to make sure the food cooks well, and you can only re-warm things. And you have to make 5 dishes of each course, 25 dishes in 45 minutes that you have to get through the judging. So you must be strategic throughout.

drocks2724 karma

Mrs. Cora

Thank you for doing this AMA! You are an amazing woman and I have a few questions for you. You don’t have to answer them all. Lol.

I love watching you on Iron Chef. How did it feel to be the only female Iron Chef for a while? With the rise of cooking shows and programming do you think that there are more women in the culinary profession then there were?

You and your wife are awesome, but how was being pregnant at the same time? Was the stressful for you both or was it helpful that you knew what the other one was going through? Also, how did you come to the decision to have you each carry the other’s eggs?

What is the latest project your organization Chefs For Humanity is working on?

K I think that is it. Thanks again and keep up inspiring little girl chefs everywhere!

CatCora41 karma

Well, to answer that question, I would say yes. I think because of Iron Chef, there are definitely more women who have gotten inspired and felt like they can do this, that they can go into a male-dominated industry and cook as hard and fast as men. So i think that really inspired a lot of women to become chefs rather than bakers, or pastry. So I think that is good. And then also, for the first question, it felt really great to be able to know that we were breaking down barriers and being an inspiration and a role model. And I take that very seriously.

Being pregnant together, we thought in the beginning when we were trying to prepare for it, that it would be super stressful. Like who's helping who here? who's going to lift things, or carry things? because I did that for the first few pregnancies, but we got through it and it was actually a lot of fun. And we were able to have more compassion for each other, knowing what the other was going through, and it made it a more amazing experience.

Well we have 2 big campaigns that we're working one. One I can talk about, one I can't. One is really working hard with the White House to bring a movement to nutritional education. We're working on this really great campaign that I think is going to be really fantastic to do more for nutritional education. So that's really my main project right now, to raise awareness in public schools, and one is the White House.

I absolutely will, and thank you so much for writing in.

1ddqd_work24 karma

What is your opinion on the plethora of "Bobby Flay vs _______" shows? In your experience, is this a "network thing" or a "personality thing" that Bobby has going on?

CatCora44 karma

well, I think we saw the same thing happen with Emeril. When he was on, he began doing about 4-5 shows, we called it the Emeril network, now it's the Bobby network. I like Bobby a lot, we're cohorts and colleagues and we always laugh when we're together, so I think it's really when they see someone that is really doing well, Food network is always a network that takes one person and runs with them and I think that's what's happening for Bobby right now.

hclifford23 karma

Chef Cora I am making pork rillettes for. my garde manger class Can you recommend a preserve or compote that could accompany without overpowering.

CatCora33 karma

Definitely a quince, any kind of fresh kumquats, pork & orange are great together. First thing I would grab would be fresh kumquats to make a compote out of to accompany the pork.

Duck_Avenger19 karma

Hello Mrs. Cora

What do you make for lunch for yourself when you are feeling especially lazy?

CatCora54 karma

Oh lunch! I'm really into kale salads right now. I love getting kale and spinach, and just making this big chopped salads with all kinds of veggies, some avocado on there, that's really a super easy lunch. I just eat it out of mixing bowl, don't even put it on a plate. I usually do a lemon olive oil, maybe a little dijon, whip it up, add some salt and cracked pepper. A classic french mustard vinaigrette.

rlangmang19 karma

Ms. Cora, I had the pleasure of eating at your restaurant in Houston's airport. As a semi-frequent traveller, I really hope that the concept becomes a larger trend. I'm tired of being rushed through the same, subpar, cookie-cutter meals when I'm stuck for a 2+ hour layover. We're not all in a hurry!

My question for you is, how did the idea for this come about? Are there other airport restaurants like yours that I don't know about?

CatCora35 karma

The good news is we are going to be opening another Cat Cora's kitchen in the B terminal at Atlanta International Airport this summer and the concept came about because i travel a lot too, and I wanted travelers to have a healthy option, and this is something I'm really passionate about. I'm going to continue to spread these all around the country. And thank you for coming.

Dsmorto19 karma

Chef Cora I'm planning to attend the culinary program at a local community college. Is this advisable or is name prestige important with culinary school?

Thank you!

CatCora28 karma

I would say that it's not as important as it used to be when I was becoming a chef, because back then, you HAD to be a CIA grad, and now you rarely ever see that. So I think now just getting some knowledge of culinary stuff and getting that program under your belt, and then you want to go out and work for someone who's well-known. Get your culinary degree and then try to get a job working with a well-known chef, because it's really who you know in this business at this point.

xafran19 karma

When did you know you wanted to be a chef?

CatCora28 karma

I think real young, when I was a teen, I started cooking with my godfather some, my family were great cooks, my dad was a great grillmeister, my mom and my grandma cooked well, so when I was 14-15 I started really getting into cooking. And that's when I knew I wanted to have my own restaurant someday.

chuemdee17 karma

Other than your own, what is your favorite food-related TV show? Can be anything from competition shows, Food Network programs, Pepin on PBS, Bourdain, or whatever!

CatCora39 karma

I have kind of a secret obsession with cake decorating, so I am all about the guys on Cake Boss, I have this secret obsession with learning how to decorate cakes.

leafmeoat17 karma

Hi Cat! Thank you for doing this AMA. Just wanted to ask a question - what's your ultimate go-to comfort food?

CatCora34 karma

I would say the ultimate comfort food is I love a great steak on the grill. Everything is very simplistic. High quality but super made very simply, just olive oil, squeeze of lemon, cracked pepper. Or a good roasted chicken with root vegetables. Or just fresh fish tacos.

leafmeoat5 karma

Oh my, I am terribly hungry! Thanks for responding!

Any suggestions for great combination of ingredients for a great oven-roasted chicken? Rosemary, oregano, thyme perhaps?

CatCora20 karma

Yeah, I love using thyme, a little bit of rosemary (not as much) oregano, you could even do some parsley, just to kind of balance those 3 flavors out, and that's a really good solid herb mix to use for a roasted chicken. And don't forget the garlic and lemon, put the garlic in the cavity, add the olive oil, cracked pepper.

akuthia16 karma

Is there anything (aside from domesticated animals pets) that you wouldn't eat or serve?

CatCora24 karma

No, aside from domesticated animals (and I definitely wouldn't do that). Not really. There's definitely not a whole lot I wouldn't eat. Like, I think after domesticated animals, everything can be tasty. Like I would try Jellyfish. I think I would try any food once.

awkward_pwnguin14 karma

Hi! I'm going to have to start cooking for myself in college pretty soon. What are some easy, fast, healthy, and (most importantly) cheap meals any college student could make? Also, I greatly admire you as a person :) Thanks!

CatCora20 karma

I would say anything with chicken, anything with a pack of stir-fry vegetables, tortillas, fajitas. anything with an inexpensive meat and vegetables thrown in, and rice / tortillas / pasta, those are some of the cheapest ingredients out there, whether it's pasta or fajita or stir fry, burritos.

CatCora19 karma

Dinner salads too.

Frajer13 karma

What's the most underrated and overrated dish?

CatCora33 karma

Most underrated dish is a lot of the old ones, like Stroganoff, classics our mom made - those are super underrated. Look at this mac & cheese craze now - look at how we're obsessed with Mac & Cheese, but there are a lot of dishes like Stroganoff that can be elevated to a whole new level.

For overrated, I think dishes that are overrated are dishes that only use expensive ingredients. Like dishes that cost an arm and a leg, like Lobster truffles, everything is very high end and expensive. When I think you could have great dishes that are just classics. Those are dishes to me that are super overrated.

CatCora19 karma

(But I love those things, don't get me wrong ! But everyday classic dishes you grew up with can be just as phenomenal)

op1212 karma

Hi Cat! I enjoyed the San Francisco Pale Ale at your SFO location and I was wondering if you guys brew that in-house or contract it out. Can you provide any details about it?

Also there were a ton of Yelp reviews recommending the lobster mac & cheese and it did not disappoint :)

CatCora19 karma

Thank you so much. I'm a big fan of my lobster mac & cheese too.

We contract this out from a brewery, and I honestly don't have any of that specific information. We can always get you that information, or you can direct message me and I'll send more information to you later.

danimal_7712 karma

Hello. My fiance is a huge fan. She would like to know what your favorite dish is. Thanks.

CatCora27 karma

Depends on the season, time of week, day of week… it could change in an hour what my favorite dish is, I've got a lot of 'em. But if I had to pick something, when it gets to be nice & cold outside, I love a great braised lamb shank.

MitchellGoosen6912 karma

H Cat.. What's an underrated food city in the south?

CatCora16 karma

We have some really good restaurants in Jackson, Mississippi, believe it or not we have great sushi there, and great italian, asian, and ethnic foods.

senatorskeletor12 karma

Do you still like to cook at home, or does cooking feel like work for you now?

CatCora27 karma

No, when I'm home, my wife and I cook all the time. We actually LOVE to stay home or have people over and have dinner parties and things like that, bbq and hang out. It's something we really love to do. I cook meals almost every night when I'm home. It's super therapeutic to cook at home, to look at the refrigerator and see what I can cook. For me, it's different than from when I'm on the road. When I'm on the road, I'm always cooking for a purpose, usually under a clock. At home I can take my time, and we can enjoy it. It's leisurely.

drumbum799112 karma

Mrs. Cora,

First, I just wanted to say that last time I was at Disney World I took the opportunity to visit Kouzzina at The Boardwalk and it was fantastic! With all of the things you are involved in and restaurants or bars you have started, do you ever find the time to check in on your locations and make sure everything is up to snuff?

And thanks for doing this AMA!

CatCora16 karma

You're welcome! And thank you so much, glad you had a great experience at Kouzzina, that was the first restaurant I ever did and my signature restaurant. I really have to travel to them, I'm speaking to managers once a week, staying on top of it, and they can always get in touch with me, and I always travel and visit. It's constant quality control and moving around.

DUNNDEE8312 karma

Is there a food you eat often that people would be surprised by?

CatCora16 karma

Probably? I think that people again, there's this myth that chefs are always eating super high brow food. And that's not true, I love mom & pop food, ethnic food of any kind, or just going to dives that have great quality foods, you know?

ashamurai11 karma

Honestly, how did the bacon ice cream taste? I watched that episode of Iron Chef and was so curious! Care to share the secret?

Also, you are an inspiration! So creative! Thanks for being such an imaginative chef.

CatCora20 karma

Aw that's so sweet, thank you so much! Bacon ice cream actually tastes pretty fantastic. And if you put some good crumble on it, and some fresh blueberries, it's even better. It's pretty freakin' amazing. Two of my favorite things, ice cream and bacon.

hwkwrd11 karma

Hi Cat!

What would you advise people like me, who don't feel very confident in the kitchen?

CatCora20 karma

I would say if you're not feeling very confident, when you have enough time to really focus on cooking a dish, take your time, really research that dish, get a recipe in front of you, and my belief is if you can read you can cook. Get a recipe and follow that to the T. And do that until you feel confident enough to go on your own a bit. That's what I did, I would follow a recipe until I got it on my own.

yermahm11 karma

What do you enjoy eating that would surprise most folks? Despite being an accomplished home cook and frequenter of high end restaurants around the US, I still love and enjoy a bowl of instant ramen or a frozen Tony's pizza. Do you have any low brow favorites that would surprise us?

CatCora22 karma

I love pho and just really great ethnic food, just a bowl of pho or noodle soup, you know, and matter of fact in the last few days I've had 2 bowls of noodle soup on my trip. And I'm finding that the cheaper bowls are the best, if you go into the cheapest places they're the best, rather than the most expensive places.

Chopsdixs11 karma

If you had a choice, who would cook your "last meal"? And if you have time to answer one more, what would you drink with it?

CatCora21 karma

Oh wow. Geez. My wife and kids. Probably a beautiful bottle of San Cerre, and then I'd probably have to do one shot of Ouzo if I was dying.

OhHelloPlease11 karma

What's your favorite episode or the US and Japanese version of Iron Chef?

Also, I cooked elk for the first time last night and loved it, what's your favorite type of game meat?

CatCora18 karma

Oooh. All the favorites I love watching are the ones I win (LOL). And I love watching any of the old japanese versions, they are just so fun to watch, especially the judging.

I like elk a lot, and we do eat some buffalo. We'll make things out of ground buffalo, which I like, it's super high in protein. And I like a nice filet of elk, when it's done right, when it's prepared right, it's fantastic.

Kknowsbest11 karma

What is the best advice ever given to you?

CatCora11 karma

I think it's from my parents, just never burn your bridges and always stay true to yourself and your philosophy. And the very best piece of advice is ALWAYS be on time.

newaccountnewyear11 karma

What is your favorite junk food? ex., McDonald's chicken nuggets.

Also, good luck with the 4 boys. That's, uh, work.

CatCora24 karma

Thanks so much, yes, it's the wild wild west at our house.

I would say my favorite junk food is barbecue pop chips. I have a real weakness for them. And frozen Reeses peanut butter cups.

Sunmann10 karma

Hi Cat!

Big fan of yours from Iron Chef. I'm watching the new America's Best Cook and loving it. And funny stories to share that won't make it to the television?


CatCora12 karma

I think it's funny all the behind-the-scenes with all the mentors. I've known Michael since we started our careers, and Tyler I've known for years and years, and Alex and I have become friends, so it's all the behind-the-scenes antics between the four of us that keep it fun, just smack talking and telling stories of the old days at Food Network, eating meals together.

idontfuckwithcondoms10 karma

Any tips on making the perfect burger? Or grilling tips in general?

CatCora14 karma

I think grilling is an art form / technique that people think it's easy and it's not, it's not as easy as people think. One of the tests is not just making an omelet, but also making a perfect medium rare burger. Every single chef you meet will have their own rule of thumb on making the best burger. For me, I love mixing in onion, oregano, salt and pepper, inside the burger meat. Some people treat it like a steak and only season the outside, so I would make sure you have a good quality meat, if you want it to be juicy have a little bit of fat in there, then grill it medium rare. When you heat your grill up, you want to heat it up high, preheat it on high and then turn it to medium, so that you don't have a charred flame-y gas taste on your burger.

The_Better_brother10 karma

Hey i have mastered the crock pot and want to be a better cook. Can i please have some advice from a world renown chef? Where would you recommend a new cook to start for home meals?

CatCora14 karma

I'm always a big fan of going from crock pots to using ovens, so a great roasted chicken, sautéing or doing stir fries, use less expensive ingredients. So roasting, sautéing, are easy and quick. Less risk, more safe and you can build up from there.

jkf1310 karma

Hi Cat. What is Bobby Flay really like? I mean seriously.

CatCora24 karma

Bobby Flay is a true new yorker, he has this cockiness to him, but he's a total teddybear. He has a rep to protect, but he's really a marshmallow.

Guitar_fool10 karma

What's a simple addition to most meals that would have a substantial impact that most people over look?

CatCora13 karma

I hate to be a broken record, but lemon, citrus is SO underrated to add so much impact to a dish. Whether it's fish, vegetables, even a great steak off the grill.

Axel92710 karma

Hi Cat!

What is your favorite book, or book you wish you had a chance to read but haven't yet?

Also, what's the one dish you can't live without?

CatCora19 karma

I am an avid reader, I tend to read a lot of thrillers and biographies. Books that I haven't read yet, my favorite book is my M.F.K. Fisher, who's my all time favorite culinary novelist, she wrote The Art of Eating, that book is fantastic if you haven't read it. I'm trying to get around to reading Unbroken, it's a biography.

Hmm. Well, one ingredient I eat a lot of is hummus, so I would be heartbroken if hummus was banished off the face of earth, I eat my weight in hummus every day.

galactic19 karma

Hi Cat!

I am a huge fan of the flavor combinations you create in your dishes. My questions are:

What is your recipe writing process like?

And what most heavily influences and inspires your flavors?

CatCora14 karma

My soul food is mediterranean food across the board, from Northern Africa to Spain, France, Italy, Greece, so that really inspires those flavors, and that inspires my cooking. My process is really if I'm in the kitchen and I'm just grabbing ingredients, I try to remember in the back of my mind what I'm doing and write it down later. You have to make it fun.

trickness9 karma

What do you think of some of the more "out there" cooking at places like Noma? Especially letting things ferment over a year etc - gimmick or a cool new direction for cooking?

CatCora13 karma

Well, I think I'm a chef, and from someone who has a craft, it's really cool. I think it's not for everybody, but as a chef, as somebody who's always exploring and seeking out new things and finding out what other chefs have taken directions to doing, it's super cool.

AfroMH9 karma

If you could eat only one dish for the rest of your life, what is it and who cooks it?

CatCora21 karma

There's no possible way I could answer that question, because if I couldn't eat but one thing the rest of my life, it would be complete torture for a chef. That would be like a life sentence for a chef.

ningrim8 karma

what is your favorite cut of steak?

CatCora13 karma

I love various kinds, I love hangar steak, NY steak, I love a good skirt steak.

AmericanWillis8 karma

Cat! How the heck do you make Mac n cheese or just cheese sauce from a roux with out getting that grittiness... I've tried all the tricks and trade. Drives me insane.

CatCora21 karma

When you make the roux and put the milk in, strain it through a fine mesh strainer to get the grittiness out, and that will make it velvety smooth. Try that.

insubordinance8 karma

Thanks for being an awesome role model on TV! ICA really did a great job with promoting the talents and skills of female chefs compared to the original.

Did you make a conscious effort to keep up with new food technology as an Iron Chef, and do you still do it in your own restaurants? It seemed like you were always the one using the immersion circulator, anti-griddle, and liquid nitrogen in the early/middle years of Iron Chef America.

Also, what opponent would you have most liked to face that instead challenged another Iron Chef, and why?

CatCora13 karma

Yes, absolutely. I'm always about staying up with new technology in the culinary industry and culinary trends, so for me it was fun to explore all these different tools & techniques. And yes we do that in my restaurant as well.

You know what, that is so hard, because it's always the best chefs in the world, so any of them would be worthy opponents. I'd be excited to challenge any of them because they are extraordinary.

Jux_7 karma

What's one simple thing I can do that would make a big impact on my cooking?

CatCora10 karma

I would say plan ahead. Make sure, again, you're using things that enhance your food's flavor, like citrus, sea salt, good spice and fresh herbs, to make the flavors pop.

Admobeers7 karma

Hi Cat. Congratulations on being an Iron Chef. That must make you very proud regardless of being a woman or not it's a huge accolade. Thank you for being on here. My question(s): What is your least favorite thing to prepare and what is your least favorite "normal" food item? I'm willing to eat some pretty crazy stuff but plain cooked carrots almost make me lose my appetite.

CatCora15 karma

Well, like I said, just a plain old chicken breast on a salad is very boring. And over the years, it's weird, I love garlic but I'm not a big fan of mincing it because it's so sticky so my wife usually does that.

Sadbitcoiner6 karma

You done with TV after this show or are you in it for the long haul?

CatCora10 karma

I'm definitely in it for the long haul, in fact I'm creating my own shows and I want to start producing.

jimmy_gd_fan6 karma

What are the best ways an amateur chef can practice cooking at home? Also what are some good dishes to make if you only have hotplates and a microwave? (My apartment for the next month before I get my new oven).

CatCora11 karma

You can put a pan on a hotplate and make a quick stir-fry? So something like that, and they also make great leftovers. And you could use your microwave to microwave them for lunch the next day.

ningrim6 karma

Do you do much sous vide cooking? When is this a good method to use?

CatCora12 karma

With sous vide cooking, I definitely do, we do in our restaurant in Singapore a lot, I do a lot more there than anywhere else because it is such an innovative city. It's called Ocean by Cat Cora, and people have an expectation there and they spend a lot of money, so we do a lot of similar techniques to that, so you need a vacuum pack, a sous vide, and do 15 minutes at 60 degrees Celsius, to cook salmon or something similar.

zachalicious4 karma

What's your go-to favorite recipe for a quick and easy dinner?

CatCora8 karma

Something like an easy stir-fry, some good fish tacos, just super-simple. We'll do things like that, we keep it simple. We don't get crazy, I think there's a myth all chefs are at home eating foie gross and lobster and truffles. Super-simple but high quality ingredients.

BaconAndRye2 karma

Cat, I liked you a lot on Iron Chef; Is it true that you actually pur when taste-testing? As a cook myself I always wanted to know.

CatCora5 karma

Can you clarify?