Any woman who's trained in a professional culinary program comes away with some hard edges; whether she shows them on the surface or not. Restaurant kitchens are notoriously male oriented. Even sweet little Sara Moulton tells of some nightmare stories during her time in France.
Personally, I think Cat's great! Love both her attitude and her food!
She was brought up in Jackson, Mississippi, and has a very pleasant demeanor and fun loving cooking style on the Iron Chef. She has a lovely voice and smile. At the end of the cooking session (always just ahead of time) she and her sous chefs down a glass of ouzo and say "Opa".