In the world of food, Rachael Ray staked her claim. The Rachael Ray Show host cultivated an empire through her daytime talk show, Food Network shows, cookbooks, and a magazine, Every Day with Rachael Ray. That said, even Ray herself has stated numerous times that she is not a chef, garnering widespread critisim in the food community.
Food Network launched the career of Rachael Ray, but she’s ‘not a chef’, she says
Not everyone in the culinary world has official training. Some of the most beloved food personalities are self-taught home cooks who enjoy cooking. Ray is among the latter group. But, food does run in the family in some ways.
Her parents ran The Carvery in a few locations, allowing Ray to tag along and help in the kitchen. After her parents divorced, her mother’s job consisted of opening and managing locations for a restaurant group. Ray worked any food-related odd jobs she could.
By the time she reached adulthood, her job wasn’t far off of her mother’s. She worked as a food buyer for a grocery store. That’s when the idea for cooking classes began, with Ray as “chef” for 30-minute meals.
Her classes were soon featured on local TV. This garnered the attention of a Today Show producer in 2001 who invited her on. The segment was a hit and led to a contract with Food Network. That said, Ray is very aware of her outsider status among others in the industry.
“I have no formal anything,” she said via Good Housekeeping. “I’m completely unqualified for any job I’ve ever had. I’m not a chef.”
The TV host has a lot of help
Though Ray never set out to be a famous “chef” on national TV, she became one. With public digs from other notable culinary experts like Anthony Bourdain, Giada DeLaurentis, and Food Network originator Emeril Lagasse, Ray doesn’t let it get to her. Instead, she continues doing what she’s paid to do — with a lot of help from friends, family, cast, and crew.
According to the website Mediaite.com, Ray said she “cannot “make coffee (it looks like mud or pee) or Toast bread (I set it on fire).” On her show, she says, almost daily, that she employs a “stunt toaster,” to prevent such burnings.
Likewise, Mashed noted that Ray’s sister, Maria Betar, helps write recipes for the Rachael Ray website, mirroring some of the help she gets to run her various projects.
Though Ray stated many times that she writes many of the dishes for the show and her magazine, she stays away from baking and leaves that to any guest bakers.
“I never do the dishes, because my husband has an affinity for it,” she told Good Housekeeping, adding to the list of things others help with. “And I’m also not allowed to touch the coffeemaker.”
All of that aside, whether she’s a “real” chef or not, she’s still putting in the time and enjoys every minute of it. Some, however, don’t understand the hype.
Critics still don’t get it but Ray doesn’t care
With so many reality shows and “everyday people” obtaining their own show, some social media users are confused at Ray’s superstardom.
“I used to like her, her new platform is not working for me. And it’s every day :( It’s like her presentation of technique just got worse or maybe I thought it used to be better than it was. Also, she scrapes her knife on her cutting board. She would never be allowed near my knives,” one Redditor said.
“I would love a high-level cooking show instead of these quick meal hack shows,” another commented.
“Rachael has never really been my favorite personality because she’s a little abrasive at times, but I was hoping this would do well so maybe FN would be encouraged to have more shows like this again instead of forcing events and parties and awkward family and friends into every single episode of other shows,” another said.
On Twitter, the responses are more abrasive with some asking why she’s famous at all. One pointed to a 2011 Huffington Post profile of famous chefs describing their best “last” meal. The spread included Bobby Flay, Morimoto, and other classically-trained culinary chefs along with Ray.
Still, despite the haters, Ray has a large, supportive fan base who enjoys what she does. There’s no doubt she’s talented and worked hard to make a name for herself. Ray tries to shrug off the negative.
“I absolutely love Tony Bourdain,” Ray told ABC. “I have an enormous amount of respect for him. It’s a free country. Not everybody’s going to like it, just like not everybody likes everybody on the playground. I mean, that’s life.
She continued: “If you spend so much time thinking about the people who dislike what it is you’re doing, you’re doing a disservice to the people that employ you. I’m not employed by those people. I work for the people that want the type of food I write about, the type of food we share with people.”