Celebrity chef. Born Rachael Domenica Ray on August 25, 1968 in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Raised in Lake George, New York, Ray grew up surrounded by family in the restaurant business. She herself held several jobs in the food industry, including opening Agata & Valentina specialty food market in New York City. It was while working in a gourmet food shop in Schenectady, New York, that Ray developed her signature “30 Minute Meals” classes, which were soon picked up by a local television newscast.
The cooking segments eventually led to Ray’s first book deal and a contract with Food Network. Vivacious and oftentimes goofy, Ray’s shtick is simple recipes involving shortcuts that anyone can do at home. 30 Minute Meals was so popular that Food Network debuted three other programs starring the bubbly cook: $40 a Day, Inside Dish and Rachael Ray’s Tasty Travels. She has also authored numerous cookbooks around the quick cook theme, including 2001’s Comfort Foods, 2003’s Get Togethers and 2005’s Rachael Ray 365.
Ray launched a food and lifestyle magazine, Every Day With Rachael Ray, in 2005 and premiered a self-titled television talk show in collaboration with Oprah in 2006. That year, 30 Minute Meals received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Service Show. She has continued to receive kudos for her work. In 2008, Rachael Ray won the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Talk Show Entertainment. The syndicated program is expected to run at least through 2010.
In addition to all her books, programs, and products, Ray has devoted some of her time to charity. She has established Yum-O!, a nonprofit organization, to educate young people and their families about the importance of good nutrition and to help feed American children in need.
Ray is married to lawyer John Cusimano. They have homes in Lake Luzerne, New York, and Manhattan’s Greenwich Village.