BOOK REVIEW SEPTEMBER, 2016
Cooking as Fast as I Can
A Chef’s Story of Family, Food and Forgiveness
AUTHOR: CAT CORA
With Karen Karbo
Salt-Roasted Beet Tartar with Skordalia on Crostini
Basque-Rubbed Grilled Chicken Thighs in Lettuce “Gyros”
with Sumac Onions and Avocado Tzatziki
Baby Lamb Chops with Feta Chimichurri Sauce
Black-Truffled Orzo and Spring Herbs
Rolled Pistachio Baklava
Kourabiedes Greek Wedding Cookies
—-Excerpts from the menu served at the White House in 2010 by
Cat Cora to honor the Greek Prime Minister.
The ability to create an original, unforgettable, one of a kind culinary masterpiece is a daunting
task. Thank goodness the gastronomical world is saturated with candidates who clamor to
create such scrumptious delicacies. Cat Cora discovered this passion in the family kitchens of
Jackson, Mississippi where she was exposed to typical southern cuisine mixed with a strong
Greek influence. After studying at the Culinary Institute of America and a stage (sounds like
collage) under Michelin-starred chefs in France, she forged her path to becoming a renowned
chef. This journey, however, was filled with significant challenges that began in her childhood,
the remnants of which remain with her today.
In the late sixties, a tiny baby girl burst into this world (literally), her teen-aged mom
relinquishing claim within two hours of her birth. Virginia Lee, a nurse, and Spiro Cora, a
teacher, became the proud adoptive parents of Catherine Anne. Her life was almost idyllic,
blessed with a loving family, a roof over her head and, especially, food on the table. Cat, as she
became known, was submerged in the aromas and tastes of fried chicken and gravy to
spanakopita and baklava, an environment that was delectable as well as secure. Amidst this,
unfortunately, ugliness reared its head and exposed Cat to a horrific abusive situation when she
was still a child. A lack of self-worth and a strong feeling of hopelessness developed as she came
to the belief that knights in shining armour do not exist and, ultimately, one must fend for
oneself. As a result, the journey that ensued was fraught with challenges whereby she constantly
found the need to probe deeply to find the courage to persevere and forgive. She became a force
to be reckoned with, personally and professionally, demonstrating a grit that often signaled
triumph. In so doing, she found happiness and recognition as a chef extraordinaire.
Cooking as Fast as I Can is an absorbing chronicle of the life of Cat Cora. It is overflowing with
bluntness, unflattering details and valuable life lessons. Courage, perseverance, determination
and inner strength provided Cat with the ‘glue’ that would keep her eye on the path to success.
This book is pungent, bittersweet, citrusy, well-seasoned, infused with a robust pace that is
tantalizing to the very last morsel.
BOOK REVIEW SEPTEMBER, 2016