• Image about Cat Cora
Cat Cora already had plenty of TV under her belt by the time she became the first female Iron Chef on the Food Network competition in 2005, but it rocketed her into outer celebrity-chef orbit. Now, the daughter of Greek immigrants from Jackson, Mississippi, juggles multiple restaurants, hosts Bravo TV’s Around the World in 80 Plates, is founder and president of her charity Chefs for Humanity, writes books, sells cookware, and even godmothers a cruise ship — see “Ship to Shore” story on page 22 — all in addition to raising four young boys. Celebrated Living recently sat down with her to dish.

Feta meets okra: Greek and Southern foods influenced all of the meals in our house when I grew up, and they are both very present in my dishes today. It is so hard to say which I love more because they are both so good, but very different.

I could always stand the heat: My godfather owned restaurants and, as a girl, I spent a lot of time there, in the kitchen, around the food, in the middle of all the action. I loved the vibe that I got when I was there.

The difference between a chef and an Iron Chef: You have to have the culinary skills and the chop to cut it on TV.

On hunger missions to Haiti and Ethiopia: I feel like it’s a higher calling. When you see all of the need in the world, it compels you to give back.

What’s in my carry-on: When I’m traveling, I always make sure to have snacks like fruit and nuts on hand. I developed my Cat Cora’s Kitchen restaurants with airport-concessionaire HBF as a healthy airport dining option for travelers because it can be so difficult to stay on track with nutritious eating when you’re constantly away from home.

Most delicious Around the World in 80 Plates destinations: There were so many! Though I loved the cuisine in Bologna, Italy, the food in Thailand was probably my favorite. The flavors in Thai food are so unique and different from any other cuisine in the world.

Best recent vacation: My family and I just got back from Venice, Italy. I absolutely love it there and it was great being able to take my children to experience the magic. And the food is fantastic!

The secret of a master multitasker: Compartmentalizing is an absolute must to keeping track of everything.

My favorite meal: The one I get to have with my family.