These Are Rachael Ray Biggest Controversies and Scandals

Rachael Ray has a reputation for being bubbly and full of energy, plus an absolute wizard in the kitchen. She may not have any formal culinary training, but Ray has plenty of experience in the food industry. The 30 Minute Meals show host has been helping busy families find time to make healthful, delicious meals for decades now.

But not everything about Ray’s life has been a total piece of cake. Just like so many other Food Network stars, her career has been plagued by scandals, rumors, and unfortunate situations. Still, Ray managed to overcome the worst of these and still keep a smile on her face.

Rachael Ray
Rachael Ray | D Dipasupil/FilmMagic

She’s not technically a chef

While so many other celebrity Food Network hosts attended prestigious culinary schools or studied under famed names in the food industry, Ray is completely self-taught. She was discovered after a local CBS affiliate saw her teaching cooking classes in Albany and offered her a segment on their show. It wasn’t long before Ray’s skills caught the attention of the Today show and a contract with the Food Network in 2001.

Some of Ray’s critics use this fact against her, saying she’s a total fraud. But the Ray argues that she’s always been honest about her background. “I have no formal anything,” she said during an interview with The New York Times. “I’m completely unqualified for any job I’ve ever had.” 

But, she doesn’t think that should prohibit her from pursuing her passion. “I never said I was the greatest thing ever,” she continued. “I just think people should be able to cook even if they don’t have a bunch of time or money.”

Her Nutrish dog food company got sued

There’s no denying that Ray is a total dog lover. But in 2017, her Nutrish brand dog food got slapped with a $5 million lawsuit citing false advertising.

Top Class Action reported that the food was far from “natural,” as the label claimed because it contained the chemical glyphosate. This is an ingredient also found the controversial weed killer Roundup.

A spokesperson for Ray told NBC that she “has always championed the great lengths Ainsworth Pet Nutrition and now the J.M. Smucker Company take to create and provide the highest quality and safest pet food products on the market.” She also said she feeds Nutrish brand to her own dog.

She’s a terrible tipper

Most people who have worked in the restaurant industry are notoriously good tippers because they know how it is. But Ray is the exception to this rule.

On her show $40 a Day, she traveled the world instructing tourists how to eat the best foods around the globe for just $40. But part of the way she achieved this goal was by leaving bad tips. While the industry standard is 15-18 percent, Ray went on record saying a 7 percent tip is acceptable.

This left a sour taste in some people’s mouths, especially anyone in the service industry.

Ray’s Dunkin’ Donuts commercials were criticized

Though she’s a massively successful Food Network star, some projects inspired criticism for Ray. In 2009, she was slammed for participating in a series of Dunkin’ Donuts commercials from people who believed they promoted unhealthy lifestyles for kids. The late Anthony Bourdain said the company was “evil” and “like peddling crack to kids.”

But Ray defended her decision, saying donuts in moderation are absolutely fine. “I don’t regret a thing,” she said. “Not for a minute.” However, she did admit the decision “wasn’t the greatest thing” for her PR.

There have been plenty of controversial moments over Ray’s career, but she takes them all in stride. And she doesn’t even mind her critics too much. “Not everybody’s going to like it, just like not everybody likes everybody on the playground,” she told ABC News. “I mean, that’s life.”