Chef Rachael Ray burst on to  the cooking scene back in 1999 with her innovative cookbook, 30-Minute Meals. It was a breath of fresh air and was soon flying off the shelves. It wasn’t long before TV came knocking on her door, offering her a spot on the country’s biggest food network.

Since then, she’s published nearly thirty best-selling cookbooks, fronts a whole host of successful shows and runs a business empire worth millions of dollars. So how did it all happen? Let’s take a look at twenty surprising milestones and fascinating facts that made her the woman she is today.

An Early Passion For Food

Rachael Ray was born on August 25th 1968 in the town of Glen Falls, New York. Her parents, James Claude Ray and Elsa Providenza Scuderi, were of French and Italian descent. From an early age, they instilled a love of food in their daughter that would one day set her on a course to cookery super-stardom.

She Loved Her First Job

After graduating from high school, Rachael landed her first job … and she loved it! And it’s not hard to see why. She got a job on the candy counter of Macy’s Marketplace. She loved her job dishing out delicious candies so much that when her manager told her she was being moved to the Accessories department, she quit. Following this, she got a job in the specialist food store, Agata & Valentina, and it was here that she began to broaden her knowledge of all the hundreds of different varieties of meats, vegetables, herbs and spices that would stand her in good stead in later life.

She Had An Unexpected Crush

We’ve all had crushes on celebrities over the years, but Rachael’s was one of the more unusual ones! She had a crush on the Welsh singer Tom Jones when she was growing up. Indeed, she was over the moon when she finally got to interview the superstar crooner on The Rachael Ray Show many years later!

She’s Experienced Some Very Dark Times

One of the strangest – and most sinister – things to happen to the 30-Minute Meals star occurred when she was 27. At that time, she was living in the New York borough of Queens. One night as she was walking home, a man jumped out and tried to mug her. Luckily, she managed to get away after pepper-spraying her assailant. However, a couple of weeks later the very same man jumped out at her again, this time brandishing a gun. He dragged Rachael into an alleyway and started to beat her. He was eventually spooked by a dog and ran away, leaving Rachael badly bruised and emotionally scarred by the incident for the rest of her life.

A New Beginning

After such a harrowing experience, Rachael took the decision to leave Queens. She first managed a pub and restaurant business before taking up a job as a food buyer for a gourmet market in Albany. It was here that she came up with the idea of demonstrating how to make meals in thirty minutes to customers in the store. The manager liked the idea and Rachael set to work devising easy, quick-to-make meals. It was a spark of inspiration that would change her life forever.

Her First Cooking Job Brings In The Crowds

Word soon spread about Rachael’s in-store ‘Thirty Minute Meals’ demonstrations. People came from all over New York to see her cook, and to ask this personable young woman for hints and tips to make delicious meals. It wasn’t long before a local television station came to see what the fuss was all about. They liked what they saw and offered her a weekly cookery slot on the station’s news hour. Things were looking up!

Her First Book Was An Overnight Success

Now a celebrity on local TV, Rachael realized that there was huge demand for quick, easy-to-make meals that could be done in thirty minutes or less. In 1999, she decided to gather all her recipes together into a book. ‘Racheal Ray: 30-Minute Meals‘ was a huge overnight success. People just couldn’t get enough of this bright young lady’s mouthwatering meals!

She Hits The Big Time

With her book selling like hot cakes and local TV viewers eagerly tuning in to see what she would cook up next, it wasn’t long before this overnight sensation was noticed by a national broadcaster. She was offered her own show by the Food Network, and on November 17th 2001, 30-Minute Meals was first broadcast to the nation. Sixteen years later, it remains essential viewing for budding amateur cooks from all over the country. Not bad!

Not Everything Ran Smoothly During The Pilot

It wasn’t all plain sailing for Rachael when she transferred over to her new Food Network show. During filming of the pilot, the rookie TV chef didn’t know that a pan she was about to start cooking in had already been greased and preheated. She unwittingly splashed oil into the pan and a huge jet of flame nearly caused her serious injury. Luckily, she was able to react in time and duck out of the way. Lesson learned, Rachael!

She Soldiered On With A Horrific Injury

Another early mishap occurred when Rachael was doing her first ever live segment for 30-Minute Meals on the Food Network. As she was chopping up some vegetables, she cut into her finger, nearly slicing the top off it. Knowing the section was going out live, she carried on as if nothing had happened, despite being in excruciating pain. The finger was subsequently treated, but has never been the same since. Because of the damage to the nerve endings, the TV chef has very little feeling in her finger. She can even hold it over an open flame without felling any burning sensation.

Her Empire Expanded Rapidly

It wasn’t long before the budding young star was in huge demand. Not only has her main Food Network show been a huge success, but her chat show, The Rachael Ray Show, has gone on to be a firm fan favorite, as has her many spin-off shows and travel shows. She is also a hugely in-demand cookery author. Since her breakout first book, she has written nearly thirty more cookbooks.

Her Career Hasn’t Been Without Controversy

As her fame grew, Rachael was invited to do what would turn out to be a highly-controversial photo-shoot for the men’s magazine FHM. The magazine was famous for printing racy photo-shoots of famous female celebrities wearing very revealing outfits, and Rachael’s photo-shoot was no different. Fans were divided, though Rachael had no regrets. Indeed, she has publicly stated that she would do it all again in heartbeat if asked.

Her Magazine Is A Best-Seller

In 2005, Rachael was approached by the Readers Digest and asked to collaborate on a new magazine. Rachael Ray Every Day was launched that same year. Initially, it had a print run of seven issues a year, but this was increased the following year to nine and then ten issues. By 2011, it was one of the most successful cookery magazines on the market. It was eventually bought out and transformed into a website full of handy recipes, useful videos and tips on entertaining at home.

She Likes To Give Something Back

Rachael is a very successful and very wealthy woman. She could sit back and enjoy her vast fortune, but that’s not her way. As her fame and wealth grew, she was determined to give something back to the country that had taken her to their hearts. In 2006, she launched the non-profit charitable foundation Yum-O! The organization aims to encourage families to eat healthier meals and embrace a better relationship with food. The money the foundation raises goes towards feeding those in need, providing free cookery courses to poorer families and food education programs.

Tips!

She may be very good at giving us tips on how to make delicious meals on a budget and with time restraints but it seems that Rachael isn’t very good at giving monetary tips when she eats at restaurants. Despite being extremely wealthy, Ray and her husband are very strict and rarely tip over 10% to their waiters.

It’s Not Just Humans She Makes Delicious Food For!

It’s not just humans that Rachael is interested in providing healthy, nutritious meals for. She is a huge fan of Pitbull Terriers. In 2005, she adopted a Pitbull of her own called Isaboo. This lead her to become interested in doggie nutrition. Now she regularly publishes recipes for healthy dog food, as well as producing her own range of pet food.

A Second Controversy

If Rachael thought her life was going to be free of controversy after that infamous FHM shoot, she had to think again in 2007. The TV chef appeared in a series of ads for Dunkin’ Donuts. Nothing out of the ordinary there, you might think, but what got people fired up was what Rachael was wearing in one of them. The scarf round her neck in an as filmed in front of the Golden Pioneer monument in Oregon was taken to be a keffiyeh – the headdress worn by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Many took this to mean Rachael was secretly supporting the pro-Palestinian cause. She had to go on Fox News to explain that she was supporting nothing of the sort and that the scarf was in fact a paisley-patterned scarf and nothing more.

It Wasn’t The Last Time Her Fans Were Mistaken

The Dunkin’ Donuts fiasco wouldn’t be the last time Rachael would fall foul of Internet keyboard warriors! Back in 2016, Beyoncé released her Lemonade album. Many presumed the song Sorry referred to Beyoncé’s husband Jay Z’s alleged affair with fashion designer Rachael Roy. Fans read that as ‘Rachael Ray’ and the completely innocent TV chef was bombarded with hate mail and even death threats from furious Beyoncé fans. Eventually, people started to realize that they were focusing their anger on the wrong person, and many apologized. Rachael responded with typical good humor – posting a recipe for lemonade ice cubes on her Twitter account. No hard feelings!

She’s Sometimes Struggled With Her Weight

As is the case with many females in the public eye, Rachael’s fluctuating weight has been the subject of tabloid gossip for years. It’s no surprise that she’s had trouble keeping the weight off – hers is a profession that requires her to eat some of the richest, most fat- and sugar-laden foods imaginable. Being an enthusiastic gym member has helped her keep the weight off, but Rachael’s recent battle with weight has had nothing to do with food at all. She explained that she was going through the menopause – a period in a woman’s life when hormonal changes make them prone to put on a few extra pounds.

Oprah Incident

In 2007, Rachael was accused of making ‘disparaging racial remarks’ about beloved talk show host Oprah Winfrey. The alleged incident happened while she was having dinner with members of her team and people close to Oprah. Rachael has always denied these claims.

Sued By A Teenager

Back in 2013, teenager Christina Pagliarolo went on Ray’s show in an attempt to lose 70 lbs before her High School Prom. The show put her on the branded ‘Rachael Ray Weight Loss Diet’ and paid for a personal trainer. But Pagliarolo ended up suing Ray and her show because she was left physically and emotionally scarred from the PT yelling at her!

Net Worth

Considering she is one of the most well known names on TV, especially in the Cooking show industry, you won’t be surprise that Rachael’s net worth is a huge $60 million!

Her Relationship Has Occasionally Hit The Rocks

For the last twelve years, Rachael has shared her life with lawyer and rock singer John Cusimano. John is a trained mixologist, and the pair have collaborated on several cooking and cocktail books together. Their relationship hit a rocky patch a few years back when rumors began to circulate that John had been seen out and about frequenting various notorious Manhattan swingers clubs. A tabloid paper ran a story on his alleged evenings out in the presence of high class escort girls and John sued. He won the case and the paper retracted their allegations. The incident took a toll on their relationship, but they seem to have worked through their difficulties and now seem happier than ever.

Show Cancelled

In 2014, ratings were so low that Rachael’s producers considered cancelling her show! Many believed one of the reasons was because Ray would regularly talk over guests and not let them talk. Luckily for her it was all just talk and she got an elusive contract to carry on.

House In The Hamptons

Rachael is the current owner of this stunning $4.69 million Southampton home in the Hamptons.

The three-bedroom estate is a beautiful residence comes with six acres of land, a pool and two kitchens, the house is definitely set up for a great party.

The Sky’s The Limit!

With a successful cookery empire, a string of hit TV shows and several controversies confined to the past, it really does seem that the sky’s the limit for Rachael Ray. Last year saw the launch of the Rachael Ray Home Collection – a furniture range designed by Rachael herself. Like all her other ventures, it has proved to be a hit with her millions of devoted fans. There really is no stopping the girl from Glen Falls!