Cat Cora, Restaurateur and Chef

By Claudia Schou   |   July 2, 2020

Summer is officially underway, so what better way to celebrate the season than to embrace the summer tradition of backyard grilling with family and friends? A cookout is the perfect way to practice social distancing with loved ones while satiating your gustatory appetites.  Whether you’re in the mood for burgers, marinated meats, grilled tofu and veggies, it’s time to fire up the grill. Over the coming weeks, Montecito Journal will run a series of articles focusing on culinary experts and businesses that we hope will inspire your grilling adventures all summer long.

Cat Cora, Restaurateur and Chef

Cat Cora

Cora’s culinary accomplishments are akin to climbing Mt. Everest. The Santa Barbara resident is a world-renowned chef, author, restaurateur, television personality, wellness expert, philanthropist, wife, and mom to six energetic boys. But perhaps Cora’s greatest contribution to the culinary world from a local perspective is Mesa Burger, serving classic California-style burgers such as the Montecito Burger, featuring an all-beef grilled patty topped with glazed mushrooms, single onion ring, arugula, sautéed onions, goat cheese and truffle aioli. Mesa Burger has outposts in the Mesa, Goleta and soon to open at 1209 Coast Village Road in Montecito. This summer, Cora is spending her time self-quarantining and promoting a public safety initiative called #forkthevirus as well as Cora-ntine Cuisine live on Instagram. When she’s not cooking in her kitchen for her fans, she becomes a grill goddess, serving up her favorite grilled selections poolside for family and friends. We recently caught up with Cora to see what’s cooking on the grill.

Q. What is your favorite burger protein?

A. Although this is like asking me which is my favorite child, I am going to go with a beef blend made with chuck and brisket and short ribs thrown in too. It’s so juicy and flavorful! 

What are your favorite herbs and seasonings for beef burgers?

Onion, oregano and garlic, just like my mom made when I was growing up.

What kind of burger typifies Montecito lifestyle?

I have a beef burger called the Montecito, smothered in truffle aioli, arugula, mushrooms, goat cheese and one crisp onion ring and served on a brioche bun.

What are your favorite summer side dishes?

I love watermelon, mint and feta salad, grilled corn, Greek Salad, grilled potatoes with lots of herbs, lemon and garlic, and my Avocado Cobb salad to name a few.

What are your favorite condiments?

I think ketchup is a mother sauce. I also make a special sauce at Mesa Burger that is similar to a tangy Thousand Island dressing as well as an earthy truffle aioli and my hot sweet mustard to name a few.

What’s your favorite wine pairing?

I love Etude Pinot Noir with a delicious beef burger.

Favorite BBQ tool?


What is your BBQ flair?

I BBQ on my Hestan grill which is like my 7th child, by the pool in a bikini and big floppy hat. I am always marinating something.

What is your favorite music to grill to?

Bob Marley.


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