Rachael Ray premiered on Food Network with 30-Minute Meals in 2001. She wasn’t a chef, just a thirty-something-year-old gal (like me) who was an awesome cook (not really like me) who wanted to share her belief that regular people could cook delicious meals for their families in a short amount of time. I was a Food Network addict (still am) so I started watching Rachael from that very first show and I loved her immediately. Watching her show felt like hanging out with a friend in her kitchen. I started making her food and buying her cookbooks and she just became a part of my life (I even dyed my blonde hair dark, like hers), and my family’s life, too.
Rachael released a kids’ cookbook (Cooking Rocks!) and she went on tour to promote it. My sister and I were so excited to take my 6-year-old daughter, Alex. Alex was excited, too. She made a meal from the cookbook and I took pictures of her during the process. We created a collage of pictures that Alex would give to Rachael when we met her at Sur la Table, Plaza Frontenac, St. Louis. Rachael was so popular that the line to get into Sur la Table reached all the way around the mall! We waited for hours and it was worth it. Rachael was thrilled with Alex’s collage and had a whole conversation with her about the dish she made. She also commented on Alex’s Dr. Pepper t-shirt. She ended the visit with an adorable autograph and a request for our contact information in case she could use Alex in upcoming books, shows, or web contact. Sadly, we never heard from her but it was still a thrill!
Flash forward fifteen years to 2019. To celebrate her fiftieth birthday (I was also turning 50), Rachael released a gorgeous book that contained a collection of 125 recipes and 25 essays. I was able to attend her book tour stop in St. Louis (I dragged my husband along this time, lol) but I wasn’t able to chat with her (she’s waaay too big now - that line would have been way longer than the 2004 line)! This is a cookbook you’ll read from cover to cover and all of the recipes are ones I could see myself cooking and my family eating.
Long story short, Rachael is great. I don’t follow her as much now as I did back in the day but I will always love her for the impact she had on me as a busy mom needing motivation to cook quick, delicious meals. Thanks, Rach!