Rachael Domenica Ray (born August 25, 1968) is an American television personality, celebrity chef and author. She hosts the syndicated talk and lifestyle program Rachael Ray and three Food Network series, 30 Minute Meals, Rachael Ray's Tasty Travels and $40 a Day. Ray wrote cookbooks based on the 30 Minute Meals concept, and launched a magazine, Every Day with Rachael Ray, in 2006.
Ray was born in Glens Falls, New York. Her parents are Elsa Scuderi, an Italian (Sicilian) American and James Ray, who is of French, Scottish and Welsh descent. She was raised in Cape Cod, Massachusetts where her family owned four restaurants. When Ray was 8, her family moved to Lake George, New York. Her mother managed restaurants in upstate New York.
In 1995 Ray moved to New York City. One of her first jobs there was at the candy counter at Macy's, where she eventually managed the fresh foods department. She later helped open a New York City market. Moving back to upstate New York, Ray managed Mister Brown's Pub at The Sagamore, a hotel on Lake George. From there, she became a buyer at Cowan & Lobel, a gourmet market in Albany. Ray credits the concept of 30 Minute Meals to her experience working at the store, where she met people who were reluctant to cook. She taught a course in which she showed how to make meals in less than thirty minutes. With the success of her "30 Minute Meals" classes, WRGB (the local CBS TV affiliate) asked her to appear in a weekly segment 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 in 2001.
On September 24, 2005 in Montalcino, Tuscany, Italy, Ray married John Cusimano, a lawyer and lead singer of the rock band The Cringe. She owns homes in Lake Luzerne, New York, and Manhattan's Greenwich Village. (registration required)
Ray teaches simple recipes that she says can be completed in 30 minutes or less, although critics claim that her concept does not include preparation.
Ray says that her Sicilian maternal Grandfather, Emmanuel Scuderi, and her Cajun ancestry serve as a strong influence on her cooking. She uses ingredients such as fresh herbs, garlic and chicken stock to boost flavors. She believes that measuring "takes away from the creative, hands-on process of cooking" and instead favors approximations such as "half a palmful".To critics of her shortcut techniques, Ray responds, "I have no formal anything. I'm completely unqualified for any job I've ever had." She acknowledges that she cannot bake because it requires measured ingredients, that she cannot make coffee, and that she burns bread under the broiler.
On her television programs, she has used catch phrases such as "EVOO" (extra-virgin olive oil), "yum-o," "G.B." (garbage bowl), "Oh my gravy!", "entréetizer" (entrée-sized appetizer), "stoup" (cross between a soup and stew), and "choup." In 2007, The Oxford American College Dictionary announced the addition of the term EVOO, short for extra-virgin olive oil, which Ray had helped to popularize, and credited her with coining the phrase.
The set of 30 Minute Meals uses a yellow Model 61C Chambers stove from the 1950s, notable for its top-opening broiler, super-insulated oven, and unique Thermowell.
On November 12, 2006, Ray and Mario Batali defeated the team of Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis on an episode of Iron Chef America during which cranberries were the secret ingredient. On March 18, 2007, Food Network debuted a Rachael Ray episode of its special Chefography series, on which she stated that "the worst day of (her) life" was Iron Chef America, admitting to being anxious about it for weeks before.
In 2005, Ray signed a deal with Oprah Winfrey and King World Productions to host a syndicated daytime TV talk show. The show, Rachael Ray, premiered on September 18, 2006. Recurrent appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show were used to fuel the launch, much as Dr. Phil's show was spun off based on his own frequent visits to Oprah. The show tapes in New York City. In coordination with the syndication announcement, Ray said, "People know me for my love of food, but I have so much more I want to share."
Ray has appeared on The View, The Today Show, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Late Show with David Letterman, Nightline, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, and Larry King Live.
For Sesame Street’s 38th season, Ray appeared in an episode to present "pumpernickel" as the word of the day.
On January 12, 2008, Ray's television series Rachael's Vacation premiered on the Food Network. ABC News: Rachael Ray Has New Food Network Series The show is a five-part food travelogue shot in various European countries. Rachael's Vacation with Rachael Ray
In 2008 Ray became a producer of a Latin cooking show on the Food Network called Viva Daisy!. The show starred Daisy Martínez.
In August 2009, Ray appeared as herself on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire for charity for Yum-O! and her own charity for animal rescue with Regis Philbin.
Ray also appeared on the hidden camera show I Get That a Lot, pretending to be an employee at a dry cleaners.
In 2003, she posed for the men's magazine FHM. A writer for The New York Times wrote, "The shots feature 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 thighs."
In a March 2009 interview with Nightline co-anchor Cynthia McFadden, Ray defended her decision to pose in the magazine.
The Reader's Digest Association launched Ray's eponymous magazine, Every Day with Rachael Ray on October 25, 2005. The magazine featured seven issues in 2006, and increased to ten issues in 2007.
In November 2006, Ray became a spokesman for Nabisco crackers. She appears in commercials and on boxes for the many Nabisco products. Many boxes with Ray's picture have her recipes.
In February 2007, WestPoint Home launched sheets, blankets, and coverlets designed by Ray. Within six months, WestPoint expanded Ray's bed and bath line to include the "Moppine", a two-in-one dish towel/oven mitt, as Ray is often seen with a kitchen towel over her shoulder that doubles for her as an ersatz mitt.
In March 2007, the Dunkin' Donuts company announced Ray as its celebrity endorser, mainly of its coffee, since she had denied being able to make coffee herself. As part of a promotional campaign, Ray describes the company's coffee as "fantabulous." Celebrity chef and Travel Channel personality Anthony Bourdain, however, disparagingly referred to Ray's affiliation with Dunkin' Donuts as "evil," and went on to compare it to "endorsing crack for kids."
In May 2007, Ray's recipes were made available on AT&T cellular phones via the "Rachael Ray Recipes on the Run" feature.
In July 2008, Rachael Ray Nutrish pet food was introduced. The dog foods are created from recipes that Ray developed for her pit bull, Isaboo. All proceeds from the sale of these products go to Rachael's Rescue, a charity founded by Ray to help at-risk animals.
In 2006, Rachael Ray launched a nonprofit organization called Yum-O! getting its name from a combination of “yummy” and “oh wow” used to explain delicious foods. The mission of Yum-O! is to “empower kids and their families to develop healthy relationships with food and cooking. This is achieved by teaching families to cook, feeding hungry kids, and funding cooking education”. Yum-O! is providing ways for families to make meals easy, affordable, delicious, and nutritious. The three main areas of focus for the organization are:
Cook: Educating kids and their families about food and cooking
Yum-o! teaches families about food and cooking, allowing them to get started cooking in the kitchen, while making meals that are easy, healthy, affordable and delicious. Yum-O! provides recipes, tips, and other helpful tools.
Feed: Feeding hungry American kids
Hunger in America has been, and continues to be, a real problem for a significant part of the population. Yum-o! has a goal to help end childhood hunger in America. Yum-o! works with organizations throughout the country to raise awareness about and contribute to special projects that address this issue.
Fund: Funding cooking education and scholarships
Yum-o! helps kids reach their food-related career goals by funding scholarships and recognizing public schools that are offering food or nutrition programs that incorporate healthy choices.