Interview with Out “Iron Chef” Cat Cora

AE: The fact that you’re an out celebrity chef means a lot to your lesbian and gay fans. What has that experience been like for you? Was there ever any pressure from employers or colleagues to not be openly gay, or to not talk about it in the press?
I think in the beginning of my career I was cautious, but not once was I told by someone not to be open. Once Jennifer and I began a family, I vowed that I would never deny them. I was always open to employers, colleagues but then came out to the public.

AE: In 2008, you were awarded the Hero Visibility Award by the Human Rights Campaign. How did you feel about being officially named a hero for being an openly gay public figure?
It was truly humbling and I was very honored.

AE: You’re very active on Twitter and Facebook, which also makes you much more accessible to your fans. What’s been the best or worst part about having so much direct contact with your internet "friends?"
CC: I think the best part is being able to connect with my fans instantly, not sure if there is a worst part. I like reaching my fans.

AE: You originally studied Exercise Physiology and Biology in college before enrolling at Culinary Institute of America. What caused you to change your career direction in favor of becoming a chef?
I just wanted to have a college degree to fall back on and, thankfully, have not had to use it yet!

AE: Julia Child was a mentor to you and had a great influence on your career. How did you meet her and do you have any favorite memories of time spent with her?
Given your personal connection with Ms. Child, what do you think about the film Julie & Julia?
I have not seen the movie yet, but plan on getting out and seeing it in the next week or so. But I had the pleasure of meeting Julia several times, one being at her home in Cambridge. She had a huge impact on me and others and she took time with me to give advice and words of wisdom which I will never forget. I also co-hosted the James Beard Awards with Stanley Tucci this year, great man.

AE: Iron Chef America Chairman Mark Dacascos is competing on the new season of Dancing with the Stars. Would you ever consider competing on DWS or some other non-cooking reality show?
CC: Absolutely, my team is pitching me for it now. I’d love to be on the next season. I think should start a campaign to help me get on there!

AE: You do a lot of philanthropic work, most notably with Chefs for Humanity and Unicef. How has your work with those organizations impacted your own life? Do you have any specific goals you want to accomplish with regards to your charitable work?
I want to be a part of wiping out hunger/poverty throughout the world and it’s my goal for Chefs For Humanity to be a part of that. CFH is my legacy and I want it to be around long after I am gone.

AE: My wife is a vegetarian, so I have to ask: Do you find it annoying to cook for vegetarians or do you approach it as an invigorating challenge?
I find it a fun challenge. In the Cora family, there are nights when we go all veggie, it is cleansing. So, I appreciate where vegetarians are coming from.

AE: Your voice and image were featured on the video game Iron Chef America: Supreme Cuisine. Have you played it? If so, did you compete as yourself or against yourself?
I have not had a chance to play it, we are still getting around to setting up our Wii system. But I have heard great things about the game. And it was fun being the voice of my avatar.

AE: Is there any dish that you can’t (or won’t ) cook?
No, I would try to cook anything, well, maybe the deadly blowfish. That would be bad.

Cat Cora at Kouzzina

AE: What’s one thing that’s always in your refrigerator?
CC: Tons of condiments!

AE: If you had to eat only one food or dish for the rest of your life, what would it be?
That would be tragic!

To help Cat Cora land a spot on Dancing with the Stars, write to ABC or send a Tweet to the show’s official Twitter account.