There are few people who have the unique opportunity to shadow the likes of someone with the stature of Iron Chef Cat Cora for nearly a day and a half, especially on the eve of launching her new show on Bravo this week called "Around the World in 80 Plates." Having said that, I am extremely privileged to have been her PR support her as she made appearances at three events while in Louisville, KY: her book signing/cooking demonstration at Macy's Oxmoor, Cochran Elementary School to stuff backpacks full of food for lower income students on behalf of Blessings in a Backpack, and Taste of Derby where she represented Santa Anita Park.
In my time supporting Cat, I came to learn much about about the tiny but mighty chef through her conversations as well as the information that she shared with her fans. She has a long list of accomplishments under her belt. Briefly - In the 12 seasons that she has been appearing on the Food Network's "Iron Chef America," she is the only female chef to hold the title to date. She is the author of three books, owns three restaurants, has her own line of wines as well as her own line of cookware. Cat's newest endeavor is her new show on Bravo called "Around the World in 80 Plates" which launches this week. In her words, "It's Iron Chef meets Survivor meets Amazing Race." For more info on Cat, visit her website at catcora.com. All of this she handles while raising her 4 boys (all under the age of 7) with her wife, Jennifer. All I can say is WOW. I guess I no longer am allowed to say "I don't have time."
At Macy's Oxmoor
Cat Cora was already going to be making an appearance at Taste of Derby on May 4. The day prior to that, she made an appearance at Macy's Oxmoor since she is one of 13 chefs that is a part of Macy's Culinary Council. Macy’s Culinary Council is a national culinary authority comprising some of the nation’s leading culinary masters that was launched in 2003. The team of distinguished chefs serve to inspire the people to shop, cook and eat home.
Cat demonstrated how to make simple hummus and paired it with Kofte Kabobs (or turkey meatballs.) I will post my vegetarian version of her recipe at a later time as well as some of the fun insider details she shared about her life and her work from her demonstration.
Blessings in a Backpack
Cat visited Cochran Elementary School and with 10 to 15 other chefs, stuffed over 400 backpacks full of food. Those backpacks serve as veritable cornucopias and help to feed students from lower income families over the weekend when away from school. The nonprofit that runs this initiative is called Blessings in a Backpack. $80 feeds one American school child for an entire 38-week school year. Currently the program helps to feed over 50,000 in 376 schools across 39 states and three countries
While at the school, Cat visited briefly with Ms. Thompson's class (pictured below.) It was amazing to see how so many of the students were absolutely fascinated and incredibly well- versed with Cat and her work. Ms. Thompson shared that "Iron Chef America" serves to be a major educational avenue for the students as they regularly inquire about the different fruits and vegetables they see and hear about on the show. It's nice to know that at least not all of our youth are watching the trash shows that have taken over so much TV bandwidth.
Taste of Derby
Tasty of Derby serves as a celebration of cuisine and racing and is held on the eve of the Kentucky Oaks. Guests got to savor exquisite cuisine and delectable wines from 14 racing stations across the country as 19 chefs served samples of their regional specialties. Cat represented the Santa Anita Park in LA on behalf of Macy's Culinary Council. This was the third year of the and Cat said she plans on repeating the event again next year. Hopefully that means that I get to return and help her out again! Hmmm - A year after the first season of "Around the World in 80 Plates?" Yes please!
After the day and a half spent with Cat, I can honestly say that she may be small in size, but the culinary knowledge and innate talent and creativity that she possesses is way bigger than I can possibly fathom. There are many celebrities these days that have inflated egos, make ridiculous demands and tend to have generally bad attitudes. I'm happy to say that Cat does not fit in any of those categories and, on the contrary, really is a good and beautiful human being both inside and out. Her Greek and Southern heritage have clearly left their positive mark. She has an incredibly inviting personality, loves and appreciates her fans, and is humble to the core. It's obvious her wife, family and children are the most important treasures in her life. She knows how to let go and have a good time, appreciates a good southern style southern potato salad and homemade German Chocolate Cake, and when all else fails - she sure knows how to laugh at herself. That said, I don't think I'll ever look at a piece of German Chocolate Cake the same without thinking of Cat and laughing out loud. Don't worry Cat - I won't say a word. ;-)