The Food Network‘s newest Iron Chef (Go Girl!) Cat Cora is going t be at Book Passage’s San Francisco Ferry building tomorrow at 1:00 pm. I recently met her at a Copia event that featured panel discussions with over a dozen local cookbook authors. She’s incredibly friendly and approachable–as is the food in her new cookbook. In a recent article, she described herself as "spicy with a little splash of dolce." I don’t get all excited about many celebrity chefs. (I’m incredibly cynical and jaded.) But Cat Cora is one exception to my position. She’s going to be a star.
Cat Cora hails from Mississippi but these days lives just north of San Francisco. After earning a degree in exercise physiology and biology she enrolled and graduated from CIA. After apprenticing to several top NYC chefs next was training in France to learn from three-star Michelin chefs George Blanc at Vonnas and Roger Verge. In the Bay Area Cora became chef de cuisine at Bistro Don Giovanni in Napa and and later executive chef at Postine in the East Bay.
What I didn’t know at the time that I met her was that she’s been on Food Network’s Melting Pot (missed for it’s cultural food diversity and for lively and sexy Aaron Sanchez) and Date Plate (not missed). In my excitement of gushing to her about how much I loved her on Iron Chef and stating that if they knew what they had they’d give her a show and drop one of Bobby Flay’s slots, well she gently let me know of her resume. Oh, ah, er sorry.
Her newest cookbook, Cat Cora’s Kitchen: Favorite Meals for Family and Friends features recipes inspired by her Greek heritage and her roots in the American South, all polished by her experiences in restaurants in France and California. Simplicity and flavor jump from the pages of this cookbook. The collection is organized into four sections: The Cora Kitchen in Jackson, Mississippi featuring recipes such as Olive Oil Cake, Slow Roasted Pork with Bourbon, and Classic Greek Roast Chicken. Part two is The Karagiozos Kitchen in Skopelos, Greece where Aegean Meatballs, Rolled Baklava and Spicy Feta Spread are made to look easy. Next stop is My Restaurant Kitchens in Northern California where diversity is further played out in Spicy Gypsy Mussels, which dances with Crab, Avocado "Sandwiches" and Mango Coulis" and ending with Banana Coconut Cream Pie. The final section is My Kitchen at Home where Tomato Croquettes with Cucumber Yogurt, Grilled Lamb Chops with Alma’s Fruit Mustard are served alongside, Grilled Stone Fruit with Prosciutto and Sheep’s Cheese. All the recipes are simple and accomplishable.
And it looks like we’ll be seeing more of Cat Cora in the future as she’s working on getting funding for a talk show (link starts a promo clip) with a wine and food flair with her name. There are also rumors afloat about her opening a Bay Area restaurant. So stop by tomorrow if your at the market to meet Cat.