Rachel Ray

Rachel Ray – A Star in Chef Uniforms

Rachel Ray is the kind of personality in chef uniforms who people either love  or hate. Millions of her fans adore her down-to-earth style and her quirkiness.  But others, which includes many food writers and celebrity chefs, heap her with  criticism. There are entire blogs devoted only to slamming this Anti Martha  Stewart (as she proclaims herself).

It isn’t difficult to dismiss her as an amateur, since she uses ingredients  from boxes, dislikes specialty foods in her recipes, often uses silly nicknames  for her food and abbreviations such as EVOO (extra virgin olive oil). She makes  juvenile remarks and giggles while she’s cooking. But what Rachael’s critics  fail to appreciate is that she is entertaining – and that’s what her fans love  about her. If someone is only interested in knowing a recipe, they can buy a  cookbook, or watch one of the dozens of TV cooking shows. Her fans love Rachael  because she has an engaging personality and is someone people can relate to.  Also, her recipes fit in with the American way of life – they are easy, cheap,  and fast to make.

Rachael grew up in a family of professional cooks, who owned restaurants on  Massachusetts’ Cape Cod. One of Rachael’s first memories, about age three, is  watching her mother cook in the restaurant kitchen, flipping a pancake with a  spatula. When Rachael tried to copy her she wound up grilling her thumb. When  she was a teenager, Rachael’s family moved to upstate New York where her mother  obtained a job as food supervisor for a restaurant chain. Since then Rachael has  been surrounded by many different cooking styles, and has been employed in the  food service industry in many different capacities.

Her professional career began when she went to work at the candy counter in  New York’s Macy’s Marketplace, where she was soon promoted to be manager of  their fresh foods department. This experience prepared her to take over as buyer  and store manager at Agata & Valentina, New York City’s celebrated gourmet  market. Although she found her city career enjoyable, she longed to return to  the country lifestyle of the Adirondacks, so she left New York and put on  restaurant uniforms to manage pubs and restaurants at Lake George’s Sagamore  Resort. Soon Albany’s gourmet market Cowan & Lobel recruited her to become  their food buyer. To publicize the market Rachael started teaching cooking  classes, called 30 Minute Meals. Her classes became very popular and were  soon covered by the local TV news program. A week later Albany’s TV station  asked her to film a 30 Minute Meals segment every week for their evening  news program. Rachael’s show was a huge success and was nominated for two  regional Emmy awards. Eventually her program moved to the Food Network, where  she became a national star.

30 Minute Meals is most definitely not a gourmet program; and probably  Martha Stewart winces at it. Rachael uses boxed ingredients, cuts corners, and  abhors specialty ingredients, preferring to use only what she can obtain at her  local supermarket. As a result, she has been on the receiving end of much bad  press, from the general media as well as from chefs. In Rachael’s defense it  must be said that her cooking is reality, as far as most Americans are  concerned. In the real world people don’t have time to spend hours cooking haut  cuisine every night. Besides her 30 Minute Meals, Rachael’s Food Network  shows include $40 a Day, which explains how to enjoy good eating while  traveling; Inside Dish, in which Rachael visits the homes and kitchens of  American celebrities; and Rachael Ray’s Tasty Travels, in which Rachael  shares travel tips and secrets to make hotel uniforms vacations as tasty as can  be. Rachael has also launched Rachael Ray Magazine, in which she shares  shopping advice, cooking tips, and easy recipes.

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