Cat Cora grew up in Mississippi – the daughter of Greek immigrants. Her grandfather ran diners in the delta where Cat first caught the restaurant bug. She eventually trained at The Culinary Institute of America and at one of her first gigs in California, the legendary Jacques Pepin happened to dine at her restaurant. He was so impressed he immediately wrote The James Beard House and declared Cat a chef to watch. She soon was asked to be the first female Iron Chef – and she leaped at the chance. (Having played softball as a young girl, she loved competition.) Cat also founded “Chefs for Humanity” and during Hurricane Katrina she and fellow chefs like Ming Tsai were feeding between three and five thousand people a day. Cat has a certain affinity for helping others – in part, because as a lesbian chef in a world dominated by men, surviving is what she’s good at.