I just found out that Cat Kora is Greek. Apparently, she was raised by a long line of Greek restauranteurs in Jackson, Missisippi. Her pappou, her pro-pappou and her baba owned Greek diners and restaurants. As the story goes, she was inspired by famous female chefs such as Julia Child to pursue her dream of becoming a gourmand. She traveled to NYC where she received training at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, Long Island. She was apprenticed to hoity-toity restaurants in both NY and California. She made it big, however, when she was the first female chef to win first prize on Iron Chef on Food Network (YOU GO GREEK-AMERICAN GIRL!) After that her career rocketed into culinary outer space.
A string of food markets in three major airports all around the US (Cora Cooks) and in Disney’s theme park (Kouzzina), a patened cooking line for Macy*s (bravo!) and now, host of the new Bravo reality show “Around the World in 80 Plates.” Cat hybrids Asian and Continental into the staple Greek fare.
Along with being a nationally famous chef and business woman, she is known for her humanitarian endeavors. She is the founder of Chefs for Humanity, which describes itself as “a grassroots coalition of chefs and culinary professionals guided by a mission to quickly be able to raise funds and provide resources for important emergency and humanitarian aid, nutritional education, and hunger-related initiatives throughout the world.”
Never mind that she was arrested on DUI charges last summer, which seems normal and understandable enough. However,the fact that she came out and declared herself a full-blown lesbian can be problematic for the Greek community though. She openly resides with her spouse, Jennifer, and her four children,Zoran, Caje, Thatcher, and Nash. What do you think? Does the Greek-American community embrace her as a poster girl or do they shun her, tin skoupizoun under the carpet, because of her gayness? What’s the status of gays in the Greek American community, especially lesbians? (I know there was a big hub bub on the island of Lesbos a couple of years ago because the inhabitants were objecting to being called “lesbians” as the International Women’s Conference descends on the island of Sappho in symbolic solidarity to the cause of female love every summer). I’d love to interview someone who is willing to come out. It is still quite an anathema to be really Greek and gay. We’re not talking like Sedaris who is far removed from the Greek root tree, but someone who still feels very much Greek with all the good and bad that goes with it. If I were a man, I would be feeling deprived of a wonderfully beautiful woman.