It’s indisputable, people love her. From her kitchen shorthand (EVOO, anyone?) to her infectious, can-do attitude and un-fussy approach to cooking, Rachael Ray is one of a kind. Her stratospheric rise to a household name has as much to do with her personality as her serious skills in the kitchen. She extracts Oprah-like adoration from her many fans, and it’s not hard to see why. Ray exudes a warmth and curiosity that renders her instantly likeable; watching her show is like sitting in your very talented best friend’s kitchen while she dishes up comfort food and commentary. In short, she is that relatable, and with good reason. She really is just a regular girl done good. She could be the poster girl for down-to-earth celebrity, her grounded approachableness coupled with her undeniable joie de vivre perhaps the very reason for her mass appeal.
It was a cooking class in upstate New York that first got Ray noticed. She had worked in almost every imaginable capacity in the food service industry, but it was her talent for whipping up easy, delicious recipes in a hurry that led to her discovery. Ray was teaching a series of cooking classes that included the popular “30-Minute Mediterranean Meals” course, a concept that was to become her hallmark, when the local CBS station in Albany-Schenectady discovered her and signed her to do a weekly “30-Minute Meals” segment for the evening news. It was a major success.
Since then, she’s been unstoppable. Ray has carved out a veritable empire, from her multitude of eagerly anticipated cookbooks and long-term relationship with the Food Network, hosting shows such as Tasty Travels, $40 a Day, Inside Dish, and 30-Minute Meals, the last of which earned her a Daytime Emmy Award, to her namesake magazine, Everyday with Rachael Ray. Her first, hour-long syndicated talk show, launched in 2006, created the Rachael Ray Lifestyle and catapulted her into the awareness of virtually everyone in North America. Produced by King World and Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Productions—undeniable experts in creating inspirational programs with devoted followings—the show has a simple mandate: to invite viewers to experience life “the Rachael Ray way,” offering simple solutions to everyday problems and demonstrating how “you do not have to be wealthy to live a rich life.” It’s a mission that has struck a chord.
Ray is now adding to all this her very own line of dog food, Rachael Ray Nutrish. Other celebrities may opt for a namesake clothing line, but for an animal lover like Ray, this is far more gratifying. To her fans this move will be unsurprising. She is known for her love of dogs, in particular, for her Pit Bull, Isaboo, and her departed love, Boo, also a Pit Bull, who passed away in 2004.
The same qualities that make Ray’s signature dishes appealing are present in her new line of dog food and snacks: they’re made of fresh, real food. Meat is the first ingredient in her all-natural dog food and there are no by-products, fillers, artificial flavours, or preservatives. On top of this, Ray’s proceeds from each sale will be donated to support Rachael’s Rescue (rachaelsrescue.org), which is dedicated to helping at-risk animals through adoption, medical care, and educational programs, along with training and outreach initiatives.
Despite her star status, Ray is determined to stay real. She still spends as much time as she can at her cabin in the Adirondacks with her husband, John, her family (the “research team”), and Isaboo. “My life has been a total accident,” says Ray, “A very happy, wonderful accident that I didn’t and couldn’t have planned.”
We’re happy to be along for the ride.
From Rachael’s Notebook
You can never replace a loved one, but you can learn to love again.
I miss my girl, Boo, every minute of every day. My dog, Boo, was my best girlfriend and official taste tester for 10 cookbooks during the 11 years we were together. She passed away [in 2004] at age 13. Boo was more than a dog; she was a true companion. I can still hear her talking away, snorting and grunting in the background of my busy life. When she passed away suddenly, I became obsessed with finding her again.
My husband John posted open letters on the Web, asking breeders if they had any red-nosed pit bulls like Boo, dogs born after she had passed on. We spent weeks looking at thousands of puppies. All were precious, but none were “Boo-like.”
Then we saw her: a little girl with a wrinkled, worried look on her face and a gentle smile, born just after Boo had passed.
She is so precious! She has the same white stripe down her nose, but this Boo has a dot in the middle of her forehead—a Bindi Boo! Who knows? Maybe Boo is in there. At the very least, Boo is giving our puppy a lot of pointers from Up Above, because we are putty in her paws!
We call our new girl Isaboo. Isabella was always my favorite name for a girl, and Boo was my favorite girl, so we combined the names and got “Isaboo.” She started taste-testing my newest cookbook right away. We have another really good eater here! Arf-O! (Yum-O!)