Rachael Ray Reveals How Chefs Really Eat When at Work

Celebrity chef Rachael Ray is used to eating on television. Sharing scrumptious recipes on air for the most novice of cooks, the successful Food Network star frequently has to sample the dishes she prepares. In her recent book, Ray discusses how professional foodies are accustomed to consuming all types of cuisine when they’re creating a meal.

Rachael Ray smiling and holding a glass of wine
Rachael Ray | John Lamparski/Getty Images for NYCWFF

Rachael Ray explains the eating habits of a cook

As one of today’s most popular culinary icons, Ray has plenty of experience as a professional chef (though she prefers to be referred to as a “cook”). Trying a plethora of menus during her international trips, Ray considers cuisine a top priority when traveling.

“Yes, people who work in food appreciate fine food, and we’re lucky to sit at some of the world’s best tables,” Ray wrote in her book, Rachael Ray 50: Memories and Meals from a Sweet and Savory Life. “When food people travel, it’s no surprise, eating is often at the top of the list in making our plans.”

Now rubbing elbows with renowned chefs from all over the world, Ray shared some of the daily dining practices of those who command the kitchen.

“In my experience, chefs and cooks are not picky eaters,” the Food Network personality revealed. “We eat standing up, out of buckets, or out of pots or pans with our fingers, scooping the last of something before sending the pan to the dishwasher. We mop up our messes with the ends of bread, gulp down a slug of stock or soup or sauce and call it dinner. How many times have you seen the family cook in your home sit and eat almost nothing? That’s because they’ve already eaten, sort of.”

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The ’30 Minute Meals’ star calls chefs ‘thrifty eaters’

Apparently, culinary masters go by the “waste not, want not” rule of thumb. Often repurposing fragments of food, a chef can create an entirely new dish from some sumptuous leftover slivers.

“Cooks and chefs are, by training, thrifty eaters, loathe to waste any ingredient,” Ray explained. “We take pride in feasting on our scraps.

Case in point: Ray described how a world-renowned chef concocted an appetizing accompaniment from some bits and pieces of cheese.

“I once watched Jacques Pépin take the rinds and scraps of eight cheeses, trim off the mold and dried-out, dead bits, then drop them in the food processor with white wine and garlic,” she recalled. “A few pulses and it was the most delightful dip, served hot or cold.”

Rachael Ray goes for ‘simple’ at the end of the day

Like many chefs, Ray prefers to go low-key after a full day of meal-making. A constant sampling of dishes can bring on a craving for simplicity.

“When you work all day in the kitchen, part of your job is to taste and test every component of every dish, over and over again until each is just right,” Ray remarked. “After a day and/or night, or both, of preparing food for others, the food you’ve been making loses its appeal. You’re done with it, you want something else, something decidedly different, something for yourself. Often, you want something simple.”

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Some no-nonsense staples for Ray include burgers and poultry, and she’s also a fan of pickled foods and a variety of cheeses.

“Scrambled eggs, a juicy, cheesy burger, hot or cold fried chicken,” she listed. “Carbonara works, too, and bacon and eggs spaghetti is a middle-of-the-night gem of a dish. Comfort foods. [Husband] John [Cusimano] always keeps salami and cheeses and pickled vegetables on hand as well.”

Ray considers those “emergency provisions.”