Debra graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1984. After cooking in top New Jersey restaurants, Debra was hired by Drew Nieporent as sous chef at the then fledgling Montrachet. Ten months later, Debra was promoted to Chef, a position she held for seven years and where she earned three consecutive three-star reviews from the New York Times.
Debra’s cooking quickly received wide acclaim in culinary circles. At the age of 28, she was selected one of the “Ten Best New American Chefs” by Food & Wine magazine. In 1990, Debra was named “Chef of the Year” by the Chefs of America Association, and a year later was the recipient of the coveted “Rising Chef of the Year” award by the James Beard Foundation. Debra was also the first American to receive the prestigious “Moreau Award” for culinary excellence from the Frederick Wildman and Sons Company.
Debra left Montrachet in June 1994 to move to Connecticut with her husband to open Aux Délices, a gourmet prepared food shop, café and catering business in Greenwich, Connecticut. Aux Délices Events, a full-service catering and event planning division, handles parties of all sizes, from corporate galas, fancy balls, grand openings and fund raisers to weddings, and private dinner parties. A second retail store was opened in downtown Greenwich in the fall of 2000. In 2004 a store was opened in Darien, Ct and in 2012 a store was opened in Westport Ct.
Debra’s first cookbook, French Food, American Accent: Debra Ponzek’s Spirited Cuisine, was published by Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, in the Spring of 1996. Her second book, The Summer House Cookbook, was released in May 2003 to glowing reviews (“However gloomy or rainy the weather, a peek into ‘The Summer House Cookbook’…is like a ray of sunshine.” – Barbara Albright, Associated Press). Her third book The Family Kitchenwas published in 2006 by Clarkson Potter. Her most recent book The Dinnertime Survival Cookbookwas published by Running press in 2013.
Debra Ponzek has been the subject of articles in the New York Times, Redbook, Ladies’ Home Journal, Fine Cooking, Elle, Metropolitan Home, Nation’s Restaurant News, Greenwich Magazine, Victoria Magazine, Food & Wine, Parenting, O, The Oprah Magazine, as well as numerous local and regional magazines and newspapers. Debra’s television credits include appearances on Late Night with David Letterman, The Today Show, the CBS Morning Show, The Food Network with Sarah Moulton, PBS, Lifetime Televisionand others.
She previously hosted a weekly radio show along with her colleague Lynn Manheim on 1490 WGCH in Greenwich called Two Hungry Women.