Was Cat Cora a Blushing Bride Before Her Latest Wedding? The Untold Story of the Iron Chef’s Past Marriage


Cat Cora is a world-renowned celebrity chef who rose to fame as an Iron Chef on Food Network’s Iron Chef America. She was the first female Iron Chef and became known for her skills in Greek and Mediterranean cuisine. Over the course of her career, Cora has authored cookbooks, appeared on numerous television shows, and opened restaurants around the world.

In her personal life, Cora has been married twice. Her first marriage was to Jennifer Cora in the 1990s. After divorcing Jennifer, Cat married fellow chef Ricardo Lugo in 2004. The couple had four sons together before divorcing in 2015. In 2017, Cat married Nicole Ehrlich but this marriage also ended in divorce just a few years later. Cat’s personal life has seen both joy and challenges over the years.

Early Life and Career

Cat Cora was born April 3, 1967 in Jackson, Mississippi to a Greek-American family that cherished its heritage (https://dalstrong.com/blogs/news/chef-profile-cat-cora). Her grandfather and uncle owned restaurants, exposing Cora to the culinary industry from a young age. She worked at her uncle’s restaurant during high school before attending the Culinary Institute of America. After graduating in 1989, Cora began working in upscale restaurants in Florida and California, gaining experience in various cuisines. She worked under notable chefs like Michael Chiarello and opened a Mediterranean restaurant in California in her mid-20s, establishing herself professionally in the culinary world.

Rise to Fame on Iron Chef

In 2005, Cora made history when she was named the first-ever female Iron Chef on the Food Network’s hit show Iron Chef America, defeating Iron Chefs Hiroyuki Sakai and Wolfgang Puck (Wikipedia). As an Iron Chef, Cora reigned undefeated in 60 straight battles over the course of two seasons on the show. Her innovative cooking style and fierce competitive spirit added a thrilling dynamic to Iron Chef America and paved the way for more women chefs to achieve mainstream fame and success (Cora’s website).

Cora’s landmark role as the first woman to join the Iron Chef ranks had an enormous impact. She brought talent, passion and creativity that excited fans. Her undefeated record proved that female chefs could more than hold their own in the competitive world of high-stakes cooking challenges. Cora’s confident, competitive presence on Iron Chef America broke stereotypes and served as an inspiration to aspiring female chefs everywhere (Wikipedia).

Marriage to Ricardo Lugo

Cat Cora first met her first husband Ricardo Lugo in the 1990s when she was just starting her culinary career. The two had a whirlwind romance and decided to elope and get married in 1999 1. Their marriage was quick and spontaneous, with some describing it as impulsive. At the time, Cora was focused on her blossoming career and establishing herself as an acclaimed chef, while Lugo worked in the entertainment industry.

Children and Challenges

Cora and Lugo welcomed four sons together, all carried by Cora via IVF. Their boys Zoran (born in January 2005), Caje (born in April 2007), Thatcher Julius (born in July 2009), and Nash (born in November 2011) completed their family.

However, juggling work and motherhood took its toll. Shortly after their third son Nash was born in 2011, Cora began experiencing postpartum depression and anxiety. “My whole world began collapsing around me,” she shared in an interview, going on to describe PTSD symptoms like flashbacks and panic attacks (https://www.du.edu/news/cat-cora-headlines-redefining-mental-health-event). With four young children counting on her, Cora knew she had to get help. Though initially hesitant to open up, she eventually sought treatment and come out stronger on the other side.

Divorce from Ricardo

After 17 years of marriage, Cat Cora and Ricardo Lugo made the difficult decision to divorce in 2015 [1]. Though ending their marriage was not easy, Cat and Ricardo remained committed to co-parenting their four sons together.

As part of their divorce settlement, Cat and Ricardo agreed to joint custody of their children. They worked to develop a cordial relationship as co-parents, putting the needs of their sons first [2]. Though no longer romantically involved, Cat and Ricardo made an effort to maintain a cooperative and constructive partnership in raising their boys.

New Relationship with Nicole Ehrlich

In 2014, Cat Cora began dating celebrity fashion designer Nicole Ehrlich. Ehrlich is known for her high-end children’s clothing line Neon Blonde. The couple kept their relationship private at first, but went public after about a year of dating. In April 2017, Cora came out as gay and announced her engagement to Ehrlich. They married on April 21, 2018 in Santa Barbara, California.

Cora spoke about the significance of coming out later in life, saying “I think there is something unique about finding your person later in life. I feel I am a better mother to my boys today. I am a better partner, I am a better friend.” She said of her marriage to Ehrlich, “I found somebody who made me feel brave and courageous…I didn’t even know what real love was until I met Nicole. Meeting someone I cared for who took care of me allowed my heart to open up.” The wedding was attended by close friends and family, including Cora’s four sons from her previous marriage.

Cited from:
Iron Chef’s Cat Cora’s Wife Nicole Files for Divorce – People

Continued Success and Activism

After her divorce from Ricardo Lugo, Cat Cora continued achieving great success in her career, opening new restaurants, publishing cookbooks, and advocating for causes important to her.[1] She expanded her restaurant empire by opening new locations of her restaurants like Cat Cora’s Kitchen and Kouzzina by Cat Cora at airports and resorts across the country.[2] Cora also launched a new fast casual Greek restaurant concept called Olivia Mediterranean Kitchen.[3] She published several more cookbooks over the years, including Cooking from the Hip (2015) and Cat Cora’s Family Table (2018).

Philanthropy became an important part of Cora’s life after her divorce. She served as an honorary board member of the UN Foundation’s Girl Up campaign, which helps empower young women around the world.[1] She also became an advocate for LGBTQ families and mental health awareness. Cora spoke openly about her struggles with depression and bipolar disorder, hoping to help end stigma around mental illness.[4] In 2012, she co-founded the Chefs for Humanity organization which provides emergency food relief after disasters like hurricanes.[5] Through her non-profit Cat Cora’s Kitchen, she donated meals to people in need and raised money for charities supporting hunger relief, human rights, and mental health.[6]

[1] https://catcora.com/pages/about-cat

[2] https://catcora.com/pages/restaurants

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cat_Cora

[4] https://people.com/food/cat-cora-opens-up-about-her-life-saving-brain-surgery-depression/

[5] https://chefsforhumanity.org/about-us/

[6] https://catcorafoundation.org/

Life and Family Today

Today, Cat Cora leads a busy life balancing her career and family. She co-parents her four sons – Zoran, Caje, Thatcher, and Nash – with her ex-wife Jennifer Cora, whom she divorced in 2016 (https://www.mashed.com/347059/the-truth-about-cat-cora/). Cat and Jennifer agreed to joint custody, and Cat has spoken about the importance of maintaining a positive co-parenting relationship for the sake of their children.

Cat is now in a relationship with Nicole Ehrlich, whom she began dating in 2017. Nicole serves as a stepmother to Cat’s four boys, and Cat has spoken warmly about their family life together. She has said that Nicole is “amazing with my kids” and that they do ordinary family activities together like movie nights (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cat_Cora). It’s clear that Cat places a high priority on raising her sons in a loving home, even as she continues succeeding in her career.


In summary, Cat Cora has had an eventful romantic life, with two high-profile marriages. She was first married to Ricardo Lugo, with whom she had four sons before divorcing in 2015 after 17 years. She then found love again with Nicole Ehrlich, whom she married in 2021.

Throughout her personal ups and downs, Cora has left an indelible mark on the culinary world. She made history as the first female Iron Chef on Food Network, paving the way for other women in the industry. With her restaurants, cookbooks, and philanthropic work through Chefs for Humanity, Cora has shown her passion for food, family, and helping others. Though her marriages did not last, her impact on cooking and culture will remain for decades to come.

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