The One Ingredient Chef Cat Cora Says She Couldn't Live Without - Exclusive

Whether you consider yourself a foodie or not, having to choose just one ingredient you couldn't live without is undoubtedly a difficult endeavor. Some would say it's impossible. How does one decide among the versatility of olive oil, the necessary flavors that one can only get from spices, and the pure pleasure of cheese, just to name a few?

The choice has to be even harder for professionally trained chefs who understand ingredients and how they work together in a deeper way than all of us home cooks. When we got the chance to pose this question to an Iron Chef, we couldn't resist the curiosity. Mashed spoke exclusively to famous chef, restaurateur, and food TV personality Cat Cora recently all about her successful career, her inspiration in the kitchen, her best cooking tips, and more. We couldn't resist asking her for the one ingredient she'd never be able to sacrifice.

Cat Cora says lemons are special

For Cat Cora, having a little citrus on hand is an absolute must. "Lemons specifically," says Cora. "I have lemons everywhere," the chef told Mashed, even noting that she has lemon trees in her backyard to pick them fresh for whatever she needs. According to Cora, that's a lot: "I love citrus on anything. I love citrus on food. I love citrus in cocktails. I love to squeeze a little citrus over my fish when I finish searing it."

For Cora, her love of lemons goes beyond the desire for a tangy kick. Lemon is a part of the chef's culinary and cultural upbringing. Cora says "lemon is, especially being Greek American, I think that's the one thing" that she'll always rely on. She added "that's the one thing that my mom, if nothing else, obviously, she has garlic, onions, and all the great, yummy fresh herbs ... but lemon is special. It really is."