Debra Ponzek was born and raised in Morristown, New Jersey. She spent two years studying engineering at Boston University before deciding the restaurant kitchen was where she really wanted to be. She switched schools and went to the Culinary Institute, graduating in 1984. She then started her externship at the Tarragon Tree in Chatham, New Jersey. Next was Toto Steakhouse in Summit, New Jersey where she caught the eye of advertising executive, Drew Nieporent, who was opening a French restaurant called Montrachet in New York City’s TriBeCa neighborhood. She started out in 1986 as sous chef and ten months later became the executive chef. At age 28 she was selected as one of the Ten Best American Chefs, and later as Chef of the Year by the Chefs in America Association.
In 1993, Great Chefs caught up with her at Montrachet, while she was still married to Great Chef Bobby Flay (she was the first of 3, all who eventually divorced Flay). Debra prepared three dishes at Montrachet for the Discovery Channel’s Great Chefs – Great Cities series.
A year later in 1994, Debra moved to Connecticut, and with her new husband, Greg Addonizio, opened a prepared food store, Aux Délices. Today in 2015, she and Greg have expanded the stores to four (Darien, Greenwich, Riverside and Westport) and they have just opened a commercial kitchen in Stamford, Aux Délices Foods by Debra Ponzek, where she teaches both adults and children how to cook like herself.