Cat Cora is a 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.
Cat Cora was born April 3, 1967, in Jackson, Mississippi, the daughter of Virginia Lee (née Brothers) and Spiro Pete Cora. Her father was of Greek descent (her paternal grandparents were from Skopelos, Greece). 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.
The writing of her first cookbook titled, Cat Cora’s Kitchen, was inspired by her Greek heritage and Southern roots and contains numerous recipes that were her family’s favorites while growing up.
In 2005, Cat Cora made television history when she became the first-ever female Iron Chef on Food Network’s hit show: Iron Chef America.
Is Cat Cora Greek?
Yes, she’s half-Greek on her father’s side. Her family is from Skopelos, Greece. Cat Cora was raised in a small Greek community in Jackson, Mississippi, by a family who held strongly to their Greek and Southern heritage. Her grandfather, father, and godfather were restaurateurs and, by the time she was fifteen, she had already presented a business plan to them for her very own restaurant.
Here’s what Cat Cora said about her heritage and upbringing while receiving a “Humanitarian Artistic Award” in 2009:
Accepting her award, Cat Cora thanked John and Margo Catsimatidis, congratulated Behrakis on receiving the HTSFʽs Humanitarian Leadership Award, and congratulated the scholarship recipients, saying that this was “the start of a wonderful, very exciting journey.”
“Iʼm humbled to be receiving The Humanitarian Artistic Award for what Iʼm doing, which is tirelessly striving to help elevate the awareness of our Greek history, culture, cuisine, and Greek people, said Cora, “Iʼm a proud Greek American. I was raised in Virginia by my American mother who embraced Greek Orthodoxy and Greek culture from the moment she met my father, Spiros. I have to say that now sheʼs more of a Greek than he is! My Greek family, my father, my grandfather, actually, when he came over from Skopelos to Ellis Island, our familyʼs name was Karagiozos and still is, when we go home to Greece. This award is not just for me, itʼs for my parents, itʼs for my family in Greece, for my grandfather and my grandmother – my Yiayia. What they instilled in me is a true love of Greece that will always be part of my spirit and passion. In turn, Iʼll pass it on to my children, my boys, teach them the beauty and the power of my Greek heritage. Itʼs important to me and to all of us that we evolve, in the next generation, while always keeping the flame of our history and traditions alive. I will continue to back our Greek community while helping others throughout the world with my charity and love of humanity.
Addressing the scholarship recipients she went on to say, “Believe in yourselves…take advantage of this opportunity, always strive to be the best at what you do…be good at what you do, persevere, and never give up. Iʼm a little, petite girl from Mississippi who grew up in a Greek American family in the South. I have a funny accent and I always tell people – especially the young generation – that if I can do it, anyone can do it. God bless Greece and God bless America.” – GreekNews Online, May 25, 2009