Rachael Ray is one of the world's most prominent celebrity chefs and food programming TV host, which can be attributed to the fact she has authored dozens of books, hosted multiple Food Network series, and also currently hosts a daily talk and lifestyle program on CBS that has been running new episodes and in syndication since 2006. Around two million people on average continue to watch the Rachael Ray daytime show, which has earned a pair of Daytime Emmy Awards and finished as a runner-up to The Ellen DeGeneres Show for Talk Show Entertainment on multiple occasions. While Ray might not be as well-known as DeGeneres, it's fair to say most people are either fans of hers or have at least heard of her given how ubiquitous she is. She is everywhere; even if you don't own a TV, chances are you've heard of her elsewhere.
The most impressive aspect of her career, beyond the amount she works to perfect her image and grow her brand, is how long she has been working, how dedicated she has been to her craft, and how fortunate she has been, proving that hard work generally pays off if you're passionate and talented enough. It's hard to believe that Ray turned 50 years old this past summer, not only because of the shape in which she is in, but also because it took her awhile to earn her big break. She wasn't always destined to be a star chef; in fact, she isn't even an actual chef. Keep scrolling for more facts you might not have known.
20 High School Cheerleader
OK, maybe this isn't exactly a shock given Ray's energy and bubbly personality, but she was nonetheless a cheerleader at Lake George High School in New York before making it big in the world of cooking and TV. Looking back at a picture of her on the cheerleading squad really drives home the point that she's 50 years old (even though she doesn't look it) as her outfit isn't at all what you might have seen in the late 80s or early 90s.
Naturally, Ray wasn't just a complementary component to the cheer team; she told Good Housekeeping in 2010 that she was often the one who climbed atop the pyramid and flipped into the arms of other cheerleaders.
19 Film and TV Career
Rachael Ray has more than 100 credits as herself on IMDB, most of which are attributed to her own TV shows or appearances on Entertainment Tonight, The Dr. Oz Show, The View, or other Food Network shows. However, in recent years, she has been branching out and garnering roles in film and scripted TV series.
She most recently starred in an episode of Nightcap and voiced the Spam in The Emoji Movie. She also played herself in two episodes of HBO's Crashing and voiced a character in HBO's Animals. In the past, she also had guest star roles on 30 Rock and Sesame Street. Didn't we say you can find her anywhere?
18 Can't Make Coffee
If you were to Google Rachael Ray cookbooks, you would find more than 30 results, one of which is a 980-page book with 365 unique recipes for one full year of "deliciously different dinners." That's how diverse her tastes are and how good of a cook she is - she can cook just about anything you ask her to and likely already has tried her hand at about every possible meal.
However, when it comes to simple things like making coffee, Ray has confessed she is in over her head. Though she has had segments on her show with guests detailing how to make the perfect cup of Joe, Ray herself revealed a few years ago that whenever she tries to make coffee "it looks like mud or pee." She also apparently can't toast bread.
17 No Formal Culinary Training
If you're wondering why Rachael Ray, the host of multiple food-inspired shows and one of the most recognizable celebrity chefs in the world, can't make a cup of coffee, it's not all that surprising. In fact, although she can cook just about everything else, she actually has no formal culinary training. She learned everything on her own and, even now, hasn't gone to school to further her craft.
That fact has made her somewhat of an enemy to celebrity chefs with formal training - Anthony Bourdain once called her the anti-Julia Child - but she doesn't hide it. In 2005, she told New York Times that she was "completely unqualified for any job I've ever had." She also doesn't even call herself a chef.
16 Parents Owned Restaurants
Now, you're probably wondering how she became so adept at cooking if she doesn't have any formal experience or training. Well, in her formative years, Ray's parents owned three restaurants on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Instead of leaving Ray and her brother and sister with a babysitter, her parents brought her to work like a real-life Bob's Burgers scenario.
As such, she once recalled that she practically grew up in kitchens and even that the first word she ever spoke of was "vino". Moreover, he earliest memory is burning her thumb on a grill. As she got older, she held just about every job possible in her mother's restaurants.
15 All in the Family
Because she grew up with such an importance placed on family as well as the blurred lines between family and business, Ray continues to emphasize the importance of family as she expands her own enterprise. Her older sister, Maria Betar, writes dessert recipes for the Rachael Ray website (red velvet with white chocolate cream cheese frosting cupcakes and raspberry cheese coffee cake are just a few of the delicious examples).
Her older brother Manny doesn't contribute to her growing empire, but has a chili recipe named after him - Manly Manny's Chili. Her mother is also often talked about as the reason for her success and why she is so hard-working.
14 She's A New York Jets Fans
That's right - when the celebrity chef isn't cooking or starring in one of her many programs, she's chanting "J-E-T-S JETS JETS JETS" on Sundays. Rachael Ray and her hubby are diehard fans of the New York Jets. Can you imagine NFL Sundays at the Ray household? Forget about the matchup, just imagine all the game day grub! Her dish of choice? Wings, of course!
Ray has a great relationship with former Jets player Nick Mangold, calling him family. She supports the organization as a proud New Yorker.
13 Underwent Throat Surgery
You've probably noticed that Rachael Ray has a unique, raspy voice. She wasn't born with that voice; in fact, it is actually the result of her having croup as a child. For those unaware, croup is a voice box viral infection that can bring about coughing fits that can do permanent damage to one's throat. Ray apparently had an extraordinarily bad case of the virus.
It was bad enough that, in 2008, she had surgery on her throat after discovering a benign lump that had re-appeared. It didn't make much of a difference on her raspy voice, however, likely due to the fact she went right back to work and didn't allow her throat proper time to heal.
12 Nutrish Dog Food Company Troubles
In addition to her TV shows, guest appearances, books, and other business ventures, Ray is a noted dog lover who owns a pitbull who was once featured in Modern Dog magazine. Naturally, Ray combined her love of dogs and food to create her own brand of dog food.
Nutrish enjoyed initial success given it was backed by Ray, but the company has been in hot water as of late, with complaints dating back to 2010 that the brand's labels misrepresent the actual ingredients. One statement noted that the label of "no artificial flavors or artificial preservatives" is misleading as the dog food does in fact contain caramel coloring and other unnatural ingredients.
11 Dunkin' Donuts Commercials
We use the term controversial quite loosely here as nowadays you're doing quite well if you're a celebrity and your biggest scandal is the fact you appeared in a Dunkin' Donuts commercial. The reason this was a thing for Ray is because she's viewed as an authority of food and, in particular, healthy eating. She signed an endorsement deal with Dunkin' in 2008 and was soon after criticized by other chefs for promoting unhealthy food to children.
Surprisingly, it wasn't because of that that her commercials were pulled from the air; instead, they were pulled due to outrage over her scarf, which some groups felt was too reminiscent of certain organizations. Yeah, that actually happened.
10 30 Minute Meals Started as Cooking Class
Ray is perhaps best known for her simple recipes that involve minimal ingredients and can be made on a budget. It's something she gained an appreciation for while growing up watching her mother make the most out of every dollar and, even with more money than she needs today, she continues to cook that way.
The show that helped propel her career into the mainstream, 30 Minute Meals, actually first began as a cooking class while she was working at a gourmet shop in Albany, New York. Noticing that certain items weren't selling, she proposed the idea of bringing in chefs to cook meals incorporating those ingredients in less than 30 minutes. Once the store was unable to afford chefs, Ray took over the class herself.
9 Has Published More Than 20 Books
Most people know Ray for her TV shows and appearances on other networks, but she could easily making a luxurious living on her cookbooks alone. Before she made it big with her own TV show, Ray released her 30 Minute Meals cookbook in 1999. It remains in publication and was the inspiration for her 30 Minute Meals Food Network show, which ran from 2001 to 2012.
Not only has she since released subsequent 30 Minute Meals books, but she has also created cookbooks focused on vegetarian meals, burgers, family meals, and comfort food. In total, she has released nearly 30 cookbooks.
8 Troubles in New York City
New York City might be a "concrete jungle where dreams are made of" with "streets [that] might make you feel brand new," (thanks Alicia Keys), but it doesn't inspire great memories for everyone, especially Rachael Ray, who was mugged twice in the Big Apple before she became a big deal.
She recalled both instances in a Vanity Fair story, noting that she was held up by a teenage boy in the lobby of her apartment before she screamed loudly and scared him off with pepper spray. He apparently returned two weeks later, but the building's guard dog, Lisa, scared off the assailant. Needless to say, she moved home to upstate New York following the second incident and soon after started the 30 Minute Meals classes.
7 Launched First Business in High School
Although it took her some time to achieve fame and success as a TV personality, Ray had actually been planning to build a career through her appreciation of food and cooking since high school. In addition to being a cheerleader and helping out at her mom's restaurants, she founded Delicious Liaisons while still in high school.
The company delivered catered baskets that she arranged herself after school. The baskets were comprised of items like cocoa mix and pasta and were decorated personally by Ray. It's no wonder that she was able to eventually find tremendous success as a cook and TV personality.
6 Not The Best Tipper
There are fewer things less socially acceptable than being a bad tipper. It's one thing to slight a waiter or waitress based on unacceptable service, but it's another to not tip at all or be considered a bad tipper. Unfortunately for Ray, that's a label that is going to stick with her throughout the duration of her career.
She might have enough money to leave large tips these days - and perhaps she does on occasion - but she was featured on a 2013 Business Insider list of the worst celebrity tippers. This is due in part to the fact that her 30 Minute Meals TV show had her strive to eat quality meals on $40 per day in any given town. In order to achieve that, she would often tip less than 10 percent. Moreover, she is on record as stating that a seven percent tip is adequate for quality service.
5 First Celebrity Crush was Tom Jones
"It's not unusual to be loved by anyone," but it's still strange for people under the age of 40 to hear that Rachael Ray's first celebrity crush was popular Welsh singer Tom Jones. Don't get us wrong, Jones had quite a few popular songs, but he was also the favorite of Carlton Banks on the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, so that should tell you all you need to know about his "coolness" factor.
Jones first appeared on Ray's daytime talk show in 2008 and made her childhood dream come true. She has also continued to talk about him in other episodes to the point where it's now common knowledge among her fans that she still has a crush on him. She has even spoke about still having the crush as recent as 2017.
4 Kicked out of the Girl Scouts
While she has had a few low-key controversies throughout her career, nobody considers Rachael Ray to be a rule-breaker. She isn't exactly the first person that comes to mind when you think of trouble, but before she hit superstardom, as a child, she was troublesome enough to be booted out of the Girl Scouts.
According to Ray herself, she was kicked out of the Girl Scouts for occurring three demerits, one of which involved making up dirty lyrics to a Girl Scouts song. It wasn't her last interaction with Girls Scouts, however; in 2007 she invited a group onto her show and helped the girls earn their cooking badge.
3 Burger Fanatic
Although she has authored numerous cookbooks on healthy eating and vegetarian-inspired meals, Ray likes nothing more than cooking up a juicy hamburger for dinner. This is even more surprising considering her background and the fact her parents owned restaurants.
That isn't to say she doesn't enjoy traditional meals from Italy, but burgers are by far her favorite. Some of her favorite and most popular recipes include French onion dip burgers, Wellington burgers, and the heart-friendly apple-cheddar turkey burgers. According to an interview with the Food Network website, she is a "burger-obsessed person."
2 Willing to Try Any Type of Food
Burgers and food from Italy might be among her most favorite meals, but that doesn't mean Ray isn't open to trying new dishes. We're not just talking about sushi or other exotic foods; Ray has, in the past, sampled organ meats such as brains, eyeballs, and the innards of different animals.
It's not just larger more accepted animals that she eats. She has also showed no hesitation sampling bugs. On one particular episode of her show, she even ate maggots that had been fried to a crisp. She is quite literally willing to try anything to determine if it can be added into a recipe or accompany a dish.
1 Career Before Family
Family was important to Ray growing up and still is to this day. We previously mentioned her sister writes recipes for her website and her mom is a huge inspiration in her career, but now she places more of an emphasis on her career than her family.
Ray has been married to musician John Cusimano since 2005 and, according to the celebrity cook, they have a happy marriage based on the mutual understanding that she "can't give a man an enormous amount of attention." Before marrying John, she told Good Housekeeping that she had to move on from several men who demanded more attention.