Iron Chef Cat Cora Has a New Show, a New Book, and a New Restaurant
How this super busy super chef juggles life in the culinary fast lane plus a house full of children.
What's your secret ingredient for balancing a passion for work with love
for your family?
You know, I have a great team professionally. And I have a great one at
home. If it weren't for my partner, Jennifer, I would not be able to do all I
do. She does so much.
Describe your approach for introducing more sophisticated fare than, say,
mac-n-cheese to younger children.
I get asked that a lot. Jennifer and I introduced spices -- ginger,
cinnamon, and nutmeg -- when the children started eating rice cereal to help
develop their palates by balancing the savory with the sweet. And we get the
kids involved in meal planning, so they're invested. "Don't want broccoli
tonight? OK, how about carrots? Great!" The more you do it, the more they get
used to it. In the evening we cook one meal. This is dinner, that's it. After
that, the kitchen is closed. If they don't eat, I say, "OK, guess we'll be
having a big breakfast in the morning!" It only takes one or two times and they
get it. My kids are just like everybody else's out there. It's hard when
they're younger than, say, two-and-a-half to do this, but after that age
they're able to understand.
You also founded the charitable organization Chefs for Humanity in the
wake of the Hurricane Katrina disaster. How did your group respond to recent
events in Haiti?
We were on it the day after [the earthquake] happened. You can read about
our initiative, One Million in 1 Month for Haiti, at http://1million1month.org/. We've raised
$100,000 so far. We've created a buzz, a movement in the culinary industry. The
bottom line is that we're acting and partnering with the World Food Programme.
Around 50 top chefs are on board to go to Haiti and help with an emergency
feeding relief plan. We've galvanized to go physically on the ground with
emergency feeding relief, just like we did during Katrina. The organization is
modeled on Doctors Without Borders, but it's for the culinary industry.
Are you an adherent of: "You are what you eat?" If so, how does mealtime
apply to health, in your opinion?
What you eat is hugely important. We eat healthily around my house. I've
been involved with wellness for a long time. I got my degree in exercise
physiology 20 years ago and have been eating well before it became trendy. Now
it's a family affair. When I do shows like Oprah, or I'm touring with
one of my cookbooks, it's about bringing parents and kids together as a unit
and teaching them to eat well as a family. It's essential to give parents the
skills and knowledge and show them that it's not always cheaper to go to
McDonalds. Or, instead of buying packaged frozen foods for $200 a week, I can
show a family how to cook healthy meals with $70 a week. Families need to know
how to shop, cook, and eat better.