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Fame & Fortune
Rachael Ray
Busy TV chef cooks up energetic schedule
Celebrity interview

Fame & Fortune: Rachael Ray

Last year, 15-, 30- (and) 60 Minute Meals, they were all themed around the last year of my life. It's always just a reflection of what I'm doing. So it's easy to build on that from there. It really doesn't feel that stressful to me. And this show (the talk show) goes on hiatus every summer anyway, so that's where I fit in the travel shows and the majority of my "30 Minute Meal" work. It's done when this show is down. If I didn't have all that to do ... gosh, I'd be bored. I wouldn't know what to do with myself.

Bankrate: Now that you're also a talk show host, what have you found is the most surprising aspect of that job?

Rachael Ray: That our viewers are a huge part of the programming itself. They give us so many great programming ideas. It's really a show where people see themselves, and that's the part I'm really surprised about. That was a goal of ours, but to see it working out so well for us and to really, really look to involve our viewers in so much of the programming and let them tell their own stories has been a great joy. And I love being in a building where we can all bring our kids and our pets and our cats and our dogs. We have a very happy work environment.

Bankrate: Since you started taping the talk show, which episode has been the most emotionally powerful for you?

Rachael Ray: Two, actually, since we began taping. Certainly the launch of "Yum-O!" (Ray's charity -- info at yum-o.org) meant so much to me, that President Clinton was here to support that cause with his Alliance for a Healthier Generation, and just the fact that he would come to our humble show. It's like, wow ... cool. And the show with Michael J. Fox. I just think he's such a rock star and such a humble, hard-working, driven, amazing cool cat. So I found that very moving. Certainly Oprah coming down in the elevator was pretty big too, that's for sure.

Bankrate: How did you wind up turning your cooking success into travel shows?

Rachael Ray: "30 Minute Meals" started out as a little cooking class that turned into a local news segment. The news director said to me, "Well, what else do you wanna do? Would you like to try another thing?" And it just sort of happened.

I did a little thing -- what I could do within a hundred miles for under a hundred bucks -- and the Food Network took a look at that, as well as the "30 Minute Meal" segments we were doing on the local news, and said, "Hey, we've been noodling around with the idea for a bunch of travel shows. How'd you like to do a pilot for that, too?" So I did a couple of test (episodes for) "30 Minute Meals," and some test (episodes for) "$40 a Day" and they hired me for both. So, good for me. All from a little local news segment where I went a hundred miles for under a hundred bucks.

Bankrate: With all this work, how do you unwind?

Rachael Ray: I'm very turtle-like. My favorite thing to do to unwind is to just be around my house. I love to be at home in my pj's. I have a huge collection of pj's, and I like to be home cooking and watching TV and listening to music.

Next: "We do things that we'd never been able to do ..."
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