Debra Ponzek is an American chef, who won the James Beard Foundation Award for Rising Star Chef in 1992 beating her then-husband Bobby Flay. She is now the owner of Aux Délices restaurants in Connecticut.
Morristown, New Jersey, U.S.
|Education||The Culinary Institute of America|
(m. 1991; div. 1993)
Debra Ponzek was born and brought up in Morristown, New Jersey. She studied engineering at Boston University, but dropped out and decided to pursue a career in cooking and attended The Culinary Institute of America in New York City where she graduated in 1984. She would later return to the Institute to give the commencement address to the students in 2015. As part of an externship, she worked in Chatham, New Jersey, at the Tarragon Tree restaurant and at Toto Steakhouse in Summit, New Jersey.
Following graduation, she began working under Drew Nieporent at his restaurant Montrachet as a sous chef. Nieporent was an advertising executive who had spotted her when she worked at Toto Steakhouse. She went on to become executive chef at Montrachet for seven years, during which time the restaurant was praised by the food critics of New York City. While there she won the 1992 James Beard Foundation Award for Rising Star Chef. She appeared on the Great Chefs - Great Cities television series, preparing three dishes. Ponzek departed Montrachet in 1994, and opened her own restaurant, Aux Délices in Greenwich, Connecticut. She has since expanded this to multiple sites, and runs cooking classes out of her central kitchen for the restaurants.
Ponzek married fellow chef Bobby Flay in May 1991. They had met the previous June, and had decided to get married within a matter of weeks. They were both nominated for the 1992 James Beard Foundation Award for Rising Star Chef, and Flay attempted to withdraw from the category when he learned he was nominated alongside his wife. The Foundation refused, but when he won the following year, Ponzek presented him with his award.
- "Debra Ponzek". Great Chefs. Retrieved November 29, 2017.
- Hall, Trish (May 8, 1991). "Sharing a Life Of Chefs' Hours And Pancakes". New York Times. Retrieved November 29, 2017.
- "Debra Ponzek '84 Delivers Commencement Address". The Culinary Institute of America. March 30, 2015. Retrieved November 29, 2017.
- "Awards Search". James Beard Foundation. Retrieved November 29, 2017.
- Young, Melanie (May 4, 2015). "The James Beard Awards: An Insider Explains How It All Began". Eater. Retrieved November 29, 2017.
- Krasselt, Kaitlyn (January 4, 2016). "Aux Delices celebrates 20 years in Greenwich". Greenwich Time. Retrieved November 29, 2017.