Rachael Ray Forfeited Her Privacy to Film the ‘Rachael Ray Show’ During the Pandemic: ‘It Was Such a Hard Line to Cross’

Rachael Ray is one of daytime TV’s most popular celebrities. The talented chef is peppy, lovable, and a genius in the kitchen. Her delicious meals and fabulous recipes have inspired home chefs across the country to elevate their cooking. 

When the pandemic shut down live television, Ray was determined to find a new location that allowed her to continue connecting with her audience. She began broadcasting from her home, despite the challenges presented by that loss of privacy. 

Rachael Ray smiling
Rachael Ray | Taylor Hill/Getty Images

Rachael Ray was one of the first people to resume live broadcasts during pandemic

When the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic struck the United States last spring, the nation was taken off guard. Everything was affected by the pandemic, from the devastated healthcare industry to retail to entertainment. 

Television shows that filmed in front of live audiences had to rethink their entire routine. Many started by eliminating their live audiences, but eventually went off the air completely. They had to make new plans for broadcasting while the nation was on lockdown.

Shortly after national stay-at-home orders were issued, Rachael Ray began filming her cooking show from her spacious (but cozy) Lake Lucerne home. Her husband, musician John Cusimano, and her adorable pitbull were her captivated studio audience.  The Emmy award-winning series, Rachael Ray, was one of the first live shows to resume filming during that very difficult time. 

Ray says it was a bit uncomfortable inviting viewers into their home 

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Although Ray’s bright smile and charming personality instantly makes everyone feel warm and welcome, she actually struggled quite a bit during the transition from the studio to her home. Broadcasting from her personal space wasn’t easy for the celebrity chef, and she recalls bursting into tears the first time she invited viewers into her home. 

In a Life is Short interview with Justin Long, Ray revealed some of the challenges she faced when beginning to broadcast from home.  She mentioned that her home was her space to relax with her friends and family, and a place to escape from everything and enjoy her favorite hobbies. So opening that up to the public was very difficult, as she explained to Long:

But my space here was where I would write or paint or read or, you know, just relax and just bring people in my world, my very close friends and my family. So the idea that I would now have to open that part of my life to everyone was a really big one for me. (Listen to the interview on Stitcher.)

She also struggled with presenting such a raw picture of herself to the world, sans hair and makeup professionals to make her camera-ready. Unfortunately, the star had a difficult personal issue to deal with at that time, which made everything even more difficult.

Her beloved pit bull, Isaboo, was 15 years old and was battling cancer. She died during their time at home, which was heartbreaking for Ray and her husband. However, she was grateful to be at home with her during those last few months, able to stay right by her side at the end. 

A devastating fire ripped through their home, but Ray and her husband are now rebuilding

In August 2020, Ray and her husband suffered another loss–that of their home. The house was ravaged by a devastating fire, forcing Ray and her family to relocate to the guest home on their land. 

According to USA Today, the fire was determined to have started in a chimney, but quickly spread through the roof of the home and resulted in near total destruction. She and her family were able to get out safely, and no firefighters were harmed while battling the blaze. 

The home is located about an hour north of Albany, and experts say its remote location may have been part of the problem. The home also did not have any sprinkler system. In an interview with ET, Ray recounted the chilling experience while showing footage of the home:

I heard the fire in the walls. It was blood-curdling. So here is our bedroom. This is the wall where I heard the fire climbing through the wall … At least you can see some bones.

Ray and Cusimano are now in the process of rebuilding their spacious house. The chef has been broadcasting from their guest home, and the rebuild is expected to be finished late this year.