A celebrity chef, restaurateur, TV personality and author
Rachael Domenica Ray (born August 25, 1968 in Glens Falls, New York) is a television personality and author. She hosts the syndicated talk/lifestyle program Rachael Ray and two Food Network series, 30 Minute Meals and Rachael Ray's Tasty Travels. Ray has also written a series of cookbooks based on the 30 Minute Meals concept, and launched a magazine, Every Day with Rachael Ray, in 2006.
Prior to the launch of her talk show, Ray hosted two other Food Network shows, $40 a Day and Inside Dish.
Ray's maternal grandparents were Sicilian and her relatives on her father's side are Cajun from Louisiana. She was born in Glens Falls, New York and grew up in Lake George, New York along with her brother, Emmanuel (Manny), and sister, Maria. Her family owned a restaurant on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, called the Carvery, and her mother managed restaurants in upstate New York. 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.
Her first job was at the candy counter at Macy's in New York City, 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 famous 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 reluctant to cook. She began teaching a cooking course in which she showed people how to make meals in thirty minutes or less. 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. Later appearances on the Today show followed, and she and Katie Couric became very good friends. Ray is also a big fan of the Howard Stern Show.
On December 16, 2008, Ray will have what was described as "very minor" surgery to remove a benign cyst on her vocal cord. She anticipates returning to work in January 2009. 
Ray teaches simple recipes that she claims can be prepared in 30 minutes or less, although critics claim that her thirty minute concept does not fully account for preparation times and many featured meals cannot be completed within half an hour..
Ray says her Sicilian maternal grandfather, Emmanuel Scuderi, and her Cajun ancestry serve as a strong influence on her cooking. She uses ingredients such as garlic and chicken stock as simple ways to boost flavors and uses fresh herbs whenever possible. She believes that measuring "takes away from the creative, hands-on process of cooking" and instead favors approximations such as "half a palmful," thereby following in the footsteps of other famous food writers such as Auguste Escoffier and Elizabeth David.
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 also acknowledges that she cannot bake (because you have to measure ingredients), she cannot make coffee, and is notorious for burning bread under the broiler.
On her television programs she has coined catch phrases such as "EVOO" (extra-virgin olive oil), "yum-o", "so delish", "G.B." (garbage bowl), "Oh my gravy!", "entréetizer" (entrée-sized appetizer), "stoup" (cross between a soup and stew) and "How bad is that"'?" In 2007, The Oxford American College Dictionary announced the addition of the term EVOO (short for extra virgin olive oil), which Ray has helped popularize.
The set of 30 Minute Meals features a yellow Model 61C Chambers stove from the 1950s, notable for its top-opening broiler, super-insulated oven, and unique Thermowell. The stove is noticed by viewers to such an extent that people selling them often refer to Chambers ranges as "the Rachael Ray stove". This has led to an increased interest in saving and restoring these stoves, inspiring two online discussion forums and fan websites, as well as numerous references to them in the media.
On November 12, 2006, Ray and Mario Batali defeated the team of Bobby Flay and Giada De Laurentiis on an episode of the program 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 weeks before she was set to appear.
In late 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."
In addition to Oprah, Ray has appeared on The View, The Today Show, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Late Show with David Letterman, 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 latest series, Rachael's Vacation, premiered on the Food Network. The show is a five-part food travelogue shot in various European countries.
In 2003, she posed for the men's magazine FHM. 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."
Reader's Digest 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.
Ray has endorsed products for Price Chopper supermarkets, and promotes a "Best in Fresh with Rachael Ray" recipe section on the company's website.
Ray has endorsed Burger King, and has appended her name to a line of cookware and cutlery. Her knife of choice was the Wüsthof. She now endorses her own line of modified santoku knives made in China by Australian based cutlery company Füritechnics.
In November 2006, Ray became a spokesperson for Nabisco crackers. She appears in commercials and on boxes for the many Nabisco products. Many boxes with Ray's picture have recipes written by her.
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, Dunkin' Donuts announced Ray as its new pitchwoman. As part of a promotional campaign for Dunkin' Donuts, Ray describes Dunkin' Donuts' coffee as "fantabulous." Celebrity chef and Travel Channel personality Anthony Bourdain has referred to Ray's affiliation with Dunkin' Donuts as "evil" and is like, "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 foods was introduced. The dog foods were created from recipes Ray makes for her pit bull. A line of products for cats is also scheduled to be launched. All proceeds from the sale of these products go to Rachael's Rescue, a charity founded by Ray for at-risk animals.
A celebrity chef, restaurateur, TV personality and author
Celebrity chef and TV personality