Does the Iron Chef Have Her Own Restaurant Empire? The Scoop on Cat Cora’s Culinary Ventures

Cat Cora is a world-renowned chef and restaurateur known for her role as an “Iron Chef” on Iron Chef America and as co-host of Around the World in 80 Plates. She became the first female Iron Chef on the show in 2005. Over the course of her career, Cat Cora has opened over 18 restaurants across the United States and abroad. Some of her most notable restaurants include her first restaurant Gasa in New York City, Cat Cora’s Kitchen with locations in several airports, and Kouzzina by Cat Cora at Walt Disney World. She has also authored several cookbooks and made regular appearances on various Food Network programs.

Early Career

Cat Cora became interested in cooking at a young age while spending time in her grandmother’s kitchen in Mississippi. She went on to study at the Culinary Institute of America, graduating in 1991. After culinary school, Cat landed her first job working under acclaimed chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten at Lafayette restaurant in Boston. During this time, she honed her skills in French cuisine. Cat then moved to San Francisco where she worked as a sous chef under celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck at Postrio. This early part of her career provided invaluable training and experience working under two major forces in the culinary world.

First Restaurant – Gasa

cat cora cooking in the kitchen at her first restaurant
After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, Cat Cora moved to the Napa Valley in California. She gained experience working at high-end restaurants in the area before opening her first restaurant, Gasa, in 1999. Gasa was located in Napa and earned critical praise for its inventive California-Mediterranean cuisine. Cora was only 25 years old when she became executive chef and co-owner of Gasa, showcasing her precocious talent and ambition. During her time running Gasa, Cora earned acclaim for putting her own creative spin on Mediterranean flavors using fresh, seasonal ingredients (abc7news).

Cat Cora’s Kitchen

In 2005, Cat Cora opened her first Cat Cora’s Kitchen at Terminal 2 of San Francisco International Airport (SFO) Located at Gate 55, it serves elevated casual dining in a lounge-style atmosphere aimed at sophisticated travelers The restaurant features award-winning cocktails along with tapas, flatbreads, burgers, and other American fare. With its sleek, modern interior decor, Cat Cora’s Kitchen brings a touch of style and sophistication to the airport dining experience.

Cat Cora’s Kitchen at SFO has proven very popular, garnering over 500 reviews on Yelp with an average 4-star rating. Its success demonstrated demand for Cora’s innovative culinary vision even in a busy airport environment. The SFO location remains a flagship outpost for Cat Cora showcasing her trademark cuisine to travelers from around the world.

Kouzzina by Cat Cora

In 2009, Cat Cora opened Kouzzina, a Mediterranean restaurant at Walt Disney World’s Boardwalk in Orlando, Florida. Kouzzina, which means “kitchen” in Greek, offered Cat Cora’s take on traditional Greek cuisine and family recipes. The restaurant was located in the space formerly occupied by Spoodles at Disney’s BoardWalk Resort.

exterior of kouzzina restaurant at disney world

Kouzzina featured dishes like spanakopita, moussaka, keftedes, and pastitsio. The menu offered breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with signature cocktails named after members of Cat Cora’s family. The décor had a lively Greek taverna atmosphere with blue and white colors.

Kouzzina remained open for over 10 years until its closure in September 2022. During its operating years, it earned positive reviews for its authentic Greek flavors and family-style dining experience led by Chef Cora.

Cat Cora Restaurants in San Francisco

Cat Cora opened her first restaurant, Cat Cora’s Kitchen, at San Francisco International Airport in Terminal 2 in 2012. It quickly became a popular dining destination for travelers, known for its Greek-inspired California cuisine and cocktails (Source 1). The restaurant features dishes like Kalamata olive hummus, grilled chicken skewers, and spanakopita, as well as signature cocktails made with fresh ingredients. With seating for 140, Cat Cora’s Kitchen provides a relaxed and upscale atmosphere in the busy airport terminal.

Reviews of Cat Cora’s Kitchen are overwhelmingly positive, with praise for the fresh, high quality ingredients and creative dishes. As one Yelp reviewer describes, “The food quality and taste is far better than your typical airport fare” (Source 2). The restaurant frequently earns 4+ star ratings on sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor, and is consistently ranked as one of the best airport restaurants in the country (Source 3).

In 2019, Cat Cora opened another SFO outpost, Cat Cora’s Kitchen in Terminal 3. The restaurant serves a similar Greek-California menu and cocktails in another upscale, relaxed atmosphere for travelers. Between her two SFO restaurants, Cat Cora has become a go-to dining option for visitors passing through San Francisco.

Cat Cora Restaurants Abroad

In addition to her restaurants in the United States, Cat Cora has opened establishments abroad as well. One of her most notable international restaurants is Cat Cora’s Kitchen in Singapore.

inside cat cora's kitchen restaurant in singapore

Cat Cora’s Kitchen in Singapore opened in 2012 at Resorts World Sentosa. The restaurant serves contemporary American cuisine with Mediterranean and Asian influences. Some signature dishes include lobster mac and cheese, braised short ribs, and ricotta gnocchi. Much of the menu focuses on small plates and tapas-style sharing dishes.

The Singapore location showcases Cat Cora’s creative take on global flavors. It features modern decor with an open kitchen. Reviews praise the innovative food and cocktails at Cat Cora’s Kitchen in Singapore.

Opening an outpost in Asia allowed Cat Cora to bring her style of cooking to new audiences abroad. The Singapore restaurant remains popular today as both a dining destination and celebrity chef attraction.

Other Notable Restaurants

Cat Cora has owned several other notable restaurants over her career. In 2005, she opened Cat Cora’s Kitchen in Terminal 2 of San Francisco International Airport (Cat Cora, n.d.). This restaurant served Mediterranean-inspired fare like flatbreads, salads, and sandwiches. It remained open for over 5 years before closing in 2011.

In 2010, Cat Cora opened two restaurants at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. She opened Cat Cora’s Kouzzina by Cat Cora at Disney’s BoardWalk and replaced Spoodles at Disney’s Beach Club Resort with Cat Cora’s Chef’s Table (Wikipedia, n.d.). Kouzzina served Greek and Mediterranean cuisine inspired by Cora’s heritage until it closed in 2018 after an 8 year run.

Outside the United States, Cat Cora has opened restaurants in locales like Singapore and the Cayman Islands. In 2012, she opened an outpost of Cat Cora’s Kitchen at Resorts World Sentosa in Singapore. She also opened CCQ Latin Kitchen & Rum Bar at the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman in 2015, which highlights Latin cuisine and artisanal rum cocktails.

TV Career

Cat Cora first came into prominence on television as a contestant on the Food Network show Iron Chef USA in 2001, where she challenged and defeated Iron Chef Hiroyuki Sakai in ‘Battle Catfish’ (Source 1). Shortly after, in 2005, she was selected to be one of the Iron Chefs on the Food Network’s Iron Chef America, becoming the first female Iron Chef on the show. She went on to appear in over 100 episodes of Iron Chef America over the course of 12 seasons, frequently competing against chefs like Bobby Flay, Masaharu Morimoto and Wolfgang Puck (Source 1).

In addition to Iron Chef America, Cat Cora has hosted and co-hosted various other Food Network shows. She hosted Around the World in 80 Plates in 2012 alongside chef Curtis Stone, a cooking competition where teams traveled to various countries. She also co-hosted Food Network’s Melting Pot in 2008 and Cooks vs Cons in 2017. Outside of the Food Network, she has made appearances as a judge on shows like CBS’ Top Chef and Bravo’s Top Chef Masters (Source 3).


cat cora competing as an iron chef on tv

Throughout her accomplished career, Cat Cora has opened several successful restaurants showcasing her skills as an innovative chef and restaurateur. Some highlights include her first restaurant Gasa in the 1990s, which launched her culinary career, and later restaurants like Cat Cora’s Kitchen in San Francisco and Kouzzina by Cat Cora at the BoardWalk Inn at Walt Disney World. She has also expanded her restaurants abroad, with locations in airports and casinos. While she has achieved fame from her television shows like Iron Chef America, Cora has continued her passion for creating Memorable dining experiences at her restaurants over the past 25+ years. With her drive and creativity, she has become a leader in the industry. Though she has sold some restaurants over the years, Cat Cora’s restaurants remain a core part of her identity as an accomplished, pioneering chef and businesswoman. Her restaurants allow her to share her love of Greek and Mediterranean flavors fused with global cuisines that create a one-of-a-kind dining experience.

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