Halting Ellen DeGeneres' winning streak, rookie Ray pulls a surprise win when she takes home the Emmy for Outstanding Talk Show (Entertainment). "Holy cat. That is exciting," she says during her acceptance speech. "I really can't breathe." In 2009, she takes the Emmy for the second consecutive year.
Rachael Ray is different from other celebrity cooks. She didn't train to be a chef. She never wears a chef's hat or apron. Her food isn't fancy or hard to make. Ray wants to encourage her viewers to cook. Her specialty is "fast food." She shows people how to whip up yummy meals in the time it takes to have a pizza delivered. Her trademark is "30-Minute Meals." She says, "If I can do it, anybody can."
In addition to all her books, programs, and products, Ray has devoted some of her time to charity. She has established Yum-O!, a nonprofit organization, to educate young people and their families about the importance of good nutrition and to help feed American children in need.
The first Rachel Ray show aired on September 18, 2006. It was broadcast nationally and attracted high ratings for a talk show premiere. Ray has always said she feels safest behind a stove. With that in mind, the set of her show included a kitchen and cooking demonstrations. Ray's guests would join her to chat around the kitchen table. Often they'd help her cook, too.
She was promoted to the fresh food section, then left Macy's and became a chef and buyer at a gourmet store. She moved out of the New York City and while working in a shop in Albany. She held cooking lessons in the store and caught the attention of a local television station. The station began cooking segments which later became "30 Minute Meals" (2001) . She has authored several cookbooks including Rachael Ray's 30-Minute Meals and The Open House Cookbook.
After her spot on the Today Show, the Food Network approaches Ray and brings her 30-minute cooking classes to a national kitchen. "You're champagne, I'm beer out of the bottle," Ray tells the Food Network. But viewers clearly have a taste for brewskis. Ray eats up the ratings with her shows, including 30-Minute Meals , $40 a Day and Tasty Travels.
Raised in Lake George, New York, Ray grew up surrounded by family in the restaurant business. She herself held several jobs in the food industry, including opening Agata & Valentina specialty food market in New York City. It was while working in a gourmet food shop in Schenectady, New York, that Ray developed her signature "30 Minute Meals" classes, which were soon picked up by a local television newscast. The cooking segments eventually led to Ray's first book deal and a contract with Food Network.
Ray's family is Sicilian-American on her mother's side and French-American on her father's side. Her family owned a restaurant on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, while her mother managed restaurants in upstate New York. She grew up in Lake George, New York. Her first job was at the candy counter at Macy's in New York City, where she eventually managed the fresh foods department.
Ray teaches simple recipes that she claims can be prepared in 30 minutes or less. Like many cooks, she uses garlic and chicken stock as simple ways to boost flavors. She often uses recipes that include her Italian, French, and American heritage, and Ray emphasizes using fresh herbs whenever possible. She states 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 she has introduced catchphrases such as "E.V.O.O." (extra-virgin olive oil), "yum-o," "so delish," "G.B." (garbage bowl)," spoonula, stoup (cross between a soup and stew) and "how good is THAT?" She often refers to sandwiches as "sammies."
The concept on 30-Minute Meals has become so ingrained in my very being that I write them in my sleep. I keep notebooks on the bedstand whether I'm at home of traveling, for the 3 AM call from the kitchen in my head. When I look at ingredients I see increments of time. When I walk through the grocery store, I don't see red peppers and green beans, I see 5 to 6 minutes in a saute pan and 2 minutes in boiling salted water.