Rachael Ray's family owned a restaurant in Massachusetts and her mother managed restaurants in upstate New York. Ray's started at the candy counter at Macy's in New York City. Rachael Ray helped open Agata & Valentina, a New York City market. Moving upstate, she worked as buyer and chef at the Cowan & Lobel market in Albany, New York. With the success of her "30 Minute Meals" classes, Schenectady, NY TV station WRGB asked her to continue on their newscasts. This, along with a public radio appearance and the publication of her first book, led to a Today Show spot and her first Food Network contract.
Rachael Ray teaches simple recipes that she says can be prepared in thirty minutes or less. Like many cooks, Rachael uses garlic and chicken stock as simple ways to boost flavors, and emphasizes using fresh herbs whenever possible. Rachael says that measuring "takes away from the creative, hands-on process of cooking", and instead favors approximations such as "half a palmful" and "eyeball it". On her television programs, Ray has popularized catchphrases such as "E.V.O.O." (extra-virgin olive oil), "Yum-O!", "So delish!", "G.B." (garbage bowl)," and "How good is THAT?". She often refers to sandwiches as "Sammies".
Rachael Ray claims to dislike baking desserts and to be notorious for burning bread under the broiler. Ray says her late Sicilian maternal grandfather, Emmanuel Scuderi, served as a strong influence on her cooking. To critics of her shortcut techniques, Rachael Ray responds, "I have no formal anything. I'm completely unqualified for any job I've ever had."
Rachael Ray launched her own magazine, Everyday with Rachael Ray in conjunction with Reader's Digest. The magazine premiered on October 25, 2005 and plans bi-monthly issues in 2006.
In addition to her television hosting and cookbooks, Rachael Ray has endorsed products for Price Chopper supermarkets and Burger King, and has developed her own line of cookware and cutlery. (When she endorsed Wüsthof's, sales rose dramatically, and she now endorses her own line of santoku knives). In 2003, she posed for the men's magazine FHM. The New York Times wrote, "The shots feature Ms. Ray in short-shorts with an exposed midriff, licking chocolate off a big wooden spoon, eating a strawberry and sitting in a sink, laughing as suds cascade down her curvaceous thighs."
In late 2005, Rachael Ray signed a deal with Oprah Winfrey and King World Productions to host a syndicated daytime TV talk show. The show, "Rachael Ray" will premiere on September 18, 2006. Recurrent appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show will be used to fuel the launch, much like Dr. Phil's show was spun off based on his own frequent visits to Oprah. The show will film in New York City, and Ray will continue to appear on the Food Network. Rachael Ray said, in coordination with the syndication announcement, "People know me for my love of food, but I have so much more I want to share."
In addition to Oprah, Rachael Ray has appeared on The View, The Today Show, and The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
In 2006, Ray's 30 Minute Meals received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Service Show. Rachael Ray was also nominated for Outstanding Service Show Host, but lost to Suze Orman.
Rachael owns a cabin in Lake Luzerne, New York and a more recently acquired multilevel apartment in Manhattan's Greenwich Village. Rachael Ray married John Cusimano, a lawyer and member of the band The Cringe, on September 24, 2005 in Montalcino, Tuscany, Italy. Her dog was a pit bull named Boo, but she died in 2005 and Ray dedicated an episode of 30 Minute Meals to her. Now Ray owns a pit bull named Isaboo. Rachael Ray said in an interview, "I do 200 sit-ups every day, and I do 100 pushups too. Man pushups."
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