According to Rachael Ray, she grew up in food. “My first vivid memory is watching my mom in a restaurant kitchen. She was flipping something with a spatula. I tried to copy her and ended up grilling my right thumb! I was three or four,” says Rachael, who insists that cooking is a way of life she was simply born into. “Everyone on both sides of my family cooks.”
Rachael has parlayed that birthright into a wildly successful career as a syndicated television star, an iconic Food Network television personality, bestselling cookbook author, Founder and Editorial Director of her own lifestyle magazine, Every Day with Rachael Ray, and Founder of the Yum-o! organization.
Rachael’s hugely successful syndicated daytime program, Rachael Ray, launched in the fall of 2006. Showcasing Rachael’s warmth, energy and boundless curiosity, the show — produced by CBS Television Distribution in association with Harpo Productions, Scripps Networks and Watch Entertainment — invites viewers to experience life the Rachael Ray way. Credited with getting America back in the kitchen with her easy approach to cooking, Rachael takes the same philosophy — finding simple solutions to everyday problems — beyond the kitchen and into all aspects of the show.
Growing up in a family steeped in culinary tradition, Rachael was exposed to a wide array of cooking techniques, learning lessons from her maternal grandfather who was raised in the traditions of Louisiana. The Ray family owned several restaurants on Cape Cod, Mass., before relocating to upstate New York, where her mother worked as the food supervisor for a restaurant chain. “I was surrounded by all different styles of cooking and worked in the food service industry in just about every capacity you can imagine,” Rachael says.
By her early twenties, Rachael developed a hankering for city life and moved to New York where she landed at Macy’s, working as the manager of the Fresh Foods Department. She credits her two years there for giving her an education in gourmet foods. After Macy’s, Rachael helped open Agata & Valentina, the prestigious New York gourmet marketplace, where she became the store manager and buyer.
Despite the exciting lifestyle in the foodie circles of New York City, Rachael decided to move back to upstate New York and start managing pubs and restaurants at the famed Sagamore Resort on Lake George. From there, she was recruited by Cowan & Lobel, a large gourmet market in Albany, to be their food buyer and eventually their “chef.”
As a way to increase grocery sales during the holidays, Rachael created a series of cooking classes, including a course promising to teach “30-Minute Mediterranean Meals,” which exploded in popularity. The CBS station in Albany-Schenectady, WRGB- TV, discovered Rachael and signed her on to do a weekly “30-Minute Meals” segment for the evening news. Nominated for two regional Emmys® in its first year, the segment was a major success; a companion cookbook sold 10,000 copies locally during the holidays. With that, a franchise was born!
Rachael’s television work grew to include a series of lifestyle and travel segments, as well as a long-term relationship with the Food Network, hosting shows such as Rachael’s Vacations, Tasty Travels, $40 A Day, Inside Dish, A Week In A Day, 3 In The Bag, and 30-Minute Meals, the latter of which earned Rachael a 2006 Daytime Emmy Award for “Outstanding Service Show” and a nomination for “Outstanding Service Show Host.” In 2011, Rachael launched a new competition show with fellow Food Network colleague Guy Fieri called Rachael Vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off and a kid version of the popular show called Rachael Vs. Guy: Kids Cook-Off.
In addition to her television endeavors, Rachael has turned her 30-Minute Meals concept into a bestselling series of cookbooks, including 30-Minute Meals, 30-Minute Meals 2, 30-Minute Meals: Get Togethers, Comfort Foods, Veggie Meals, The Open House Cookbook, Cooking Round The Clock Rachael Ray 30-Minute Meals, Cooking Rocks! Rachael Ray 30-Minute Meals for Kids, Rachael Ray Best Eats In Town On $40 A Day, Rachael Ray 30-Minute Get Real Meals, Rachael Ray 365: No Repeats A Year of Deliciously Different Dinners, Express Lane Meals, 2-4-6-8: Great Meals for Couples or Crowds, Just in Time, Yum-o! The Family Cookbook, Rachael Ray’s Big Orange Book, Rachael Ray’s Book of 10, Rachael Ray’s Look + Cook, Rachael Ray’s Book of Burger, My Year in Meals, Week In A Day and Everyone Is Italian On Sunday (October 2015).
Taking the can-do spirit of her television shows and books, Rachael launched a new lifestyle magazine in 2005 bearing her vision called Every Day with Rachael Ray. With great food at its core, the magazine offers smart and easy recipes for every occasion as well as practical advice on travel and entertaining. In the magazine, Rachael takes readers around the country to meet people who love food—from celebrities and authentic artisans to great home cooks. In 2008, Every Day with Rachael Ray was named to Advertising Age’s ”A-List” and in 2009 was named “Magazine of the Decade” by AdWeek. Today Every Day with Rachael Ray continues to be at the top of both the epicurean and the lifestyle categories.
In the fall of 2006, Rachael launched the daily one-hour, nationally syndicated show Rachael Ray, which scored the highest-rated premiere for a syndicated talk show since the 2002 launch of Dr. Phil. It quickly secured its position among the top-ranked daytime shows and was the No. 1 syndicated strip launched in the 2006-07 season. The daytime talker was immediately embraced by critics across the country. Time magazine wrote, “You can’t attract her kind of following by just being accessible. Ray, like Regis Philbin, is gifted at being on television.” Newsweek praised Rachael as being “the most down-to-earth TV star on the planet…” People magazine named Rachael Ray one of the top 10 shows of 2006, and Forbes has included her on their “Most Trusted Celebrity” list.
Rachael Ray won the Outstanding Talk Show-Entertainment Emmy® in 2008 and 2009 and scored three Daytime Emmy® nominations in 2010 and 2011 and Best Talk Show Host Emmy® nomination in 2012. Adding to the list of achievements, Television Week named her “Syndication Personality of the Year” in 2007 and in 2008 the magazine named her one of their most “Bankable” stars, ahead of Ellen DeGeneres. BusinessWeek honored her as one of the “Best Leaders of 2006.” In its freshman year, Rachael Ray won a 2007 Daytime Emmy® Award and was nominated for six others including Outstanding Talk Show and Outstanding Talk Show Host. In 2009, Rachael was honored with the American Women in Radio & Television Tribute Award.
In the spring of 2007, Rachael Ray launched a nonprofit organization, Yum-o! that empowers kids and their families to develop healthy relationships with food and cooking. By providing the tools to create easy, affordable and delicious meals, Yum-o! is changing the way America eats. Yum-o!’s three work areas include educating kids and their families about cooking, feeding hungry American kids and funding cooking education and scholarships.
In April of 2014, Rachael received the honor of being named to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition by President Barack Obama. For more information about the Yum-o! Organization, please visit www.yum-o.org.
In 2008, Rachael partnered with Dad’s Pet Care to develop a line of super premium dog food and treats called Rachael Ray? Nutrish. In 2011, Rachael and Dad’s launched several new lines of treats and food called Nutrish Just 6 and Nutrish Healthy Weight. The following year, in 2012, Nutrish launched a wet food line. All of Rachael’s proceeds from the sale of Nutrish are donated to support Rachael’s Rescue (www.rachaelsrescue.org), which is dedicated to helping at-risk animals through adoption, medical care and educational programs, along with training and outreach initiatives. In November 2012, in the horrible aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Rachael donated $500,000 to the ASPCA to open a temporary shelter in Brooklyn, NY for displaced, hurt and lost animals.
In 2014, Nutrish launched both wet and dry food for cats. To date, Rachael has donated more than $9.0 million of her proceeds to animals in need.
“My life has been a total accident — a very happy, wonderful accident that I didn’t and couldn’t have planned,” says Rachael. Despite her growing celebrity she is determined to stay grounded and hold on to her down-to-earth values. 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 her beloved pit bull, Isaboo.