Talking With… Rachael Ray

Talking With… Rachael Ray

By Wayne Bell

Anyone who knows me knows what a “Food Network” addict I am, so you can imagine my excitement when I found out that I would get 15-minutes of phone time with one of its superstars, Emmy award winner Rachael Ray. 

Our “date,” as I like to call it, covered a variety of topics. Ray was eager to share news about her new all-natural dog food, Nutrish, and dog treats, Isaboo Booscotti and Isaboo Grill Bites, named after her dog. The products are sold at Walmart and sales benefit Rachael’s Rescue, which funds pet-friendly charities. Ray talked about how important it is to her to have quality ingredients and high standards and testing with the new pet food line.

When talking about standards and quality, I had to ask about some of my favorite Rachael Ray products that reside in my dog-less apartment. I have pulled out her stock-in-a-box on countless occasions, including for my Oscar party the night before the interview. She said the process and testing is lengthy and she stays personally involved in each of her product lines, from development to delivery. 

This prompted me to bring up one of my favorite things about Rachael Ray products … the cost. Yes, she has some pricey pans and cooking tools, but unlike some of her “Food Network” colleagues, she has maintained a reasonable pricing structure on most of her basic items. 

Ray shared some cost-saving tips after I told her that the Free Weekly was read by many budget-conscious 20- and 30-somethings. 

Her suggestions made me realize that she actually knows her stuff and hasn’t become jaded by her fame.  

She rattled off where to find unit prices on Walmart tags (in the yellow, on the left), cheap yet tasty beef cuts (skirt steak), and even some tips that she uses in her own kitchen (no mention of personal chefs).  

My favorite tip involved buying seasonal produce, fast blanching it in boiling water, cold shocking it in ice water, and then freezer bagging and putting it in the freezer. The produce comes out crispy and almost like fresh. It has to be cooked, but can be enjoyed all year long. She is fond of doing this with squash and peppers.  

She also suggested buying large packages of chicken breasts, pounding them thin, adding a teaspoon of water, and freezing them individually in freezer-safe bags, for economical and practical cutlets.

We finally talked about the “Food Network” and her show. I expressed my sadness over the loss of her hit “$40 a Day.”  She said she is continuing her “30 Minute Meals” and “Tasty Travels” and said that I might like her new project “Farm to Table.” 

My last question was to ask for her advice for readers who have a passion but don’t know how to turn it into a future. Ray was a candy store and gourmet food market manager before being plucked off of a TV morning show and then gaining national exposure with the “Food Network” and her Oprah Winfrey produced “Rachael Ray.”  

Ray said that she looked up to people like Emeril Lagasse and the way he made his food and show so approachable. She said she didn’t really know what the secret to her success was, but that someone took a chance on her.  She worked hard in whatever job she had and just kept trying.

I left my conversation with Ray with a lot of excitement over how knowledgeable she is, how conscious she is of today’s economy and how grounded she is. I know that I will think differently each time I pick up one of her products, watch one of her shows, read her magazine, catch her on Oprah, or use EVOO, for those of you who don’t know, that’s her term for extra virgin olive oil… GEEZ.

Categories: Commentary