Rachael Ray is energetic, gorgeous and a no-frills celebrity cook with an empire worth millions. One of the first things that strike you immediately about Ray is the lack of pretension, a powerful tool for connecting to her many fans. She readily confesses that she has no formal training in cookery and that she doesn’t know how to bake yet she has emerged as one of the most dominant personal brands in America. Not only is she now one of the most famous TV cooks but she has branched out into other fields, creating a media business empire worth tens of millions of dollars.
It is also being said that Rachael Ray could be poised to become the next Martha Stewart and has already written 18 cookbooks that have sold millions of copies.
After being discovered by a local Albany TV station where she was doing 30 minute cooking courses for her store customers at her gourmet food shop in Albany, New York. The meeting led to a spot New York’s Today show and after her huge success with the show she was given a Food Network contract.
“She is still relatively young and surely has much career success ahead of her,” said Professor Jeffrey McCall, an expert in communications at DePauw University, Indiana.
Ray has also followed in the footsteps of celebrities such as Jamie Oliver and campaigned for better nutrition in schools.
The secret of Ray’s appeal is her ordinariness. She has built a vast commercial empire on her neighbourly appeal. “She’s attainable, easy to understand, almost like your girlfriend next door,” said Jim Joseph, a media expert and author of the Experience Effect. “There are no illusions of grandeur or Hollywood sensation.” That is putting it mildly. Not for Ray any attempt at ambitious or fine cooking. She is no “foodie”. Not only can she not bake, but on her shows she largely eschews the idea of using exact measurements. Instead she instructs viewers to add a “pinch” of this or to “just eyeball” it when pouring in an ingredient.
Her energetic, constantly smiling charm – almost all articles about her use the word “perky” – frequently sees her exclaim “Yummo!” or “Delish!” when making food. She extols the virtues of using canned goods and pre-chopped vegetables. It is a long way from Stewart’s attempts at refined home-making. Instead it is an embrace of the suburban reality that most of Ray’s viewers live every day.
“She doesn’t judge and she relates to her audience in a non-threatening ‘every woman’ kind of way,” said New York PR expert Meg McAllister, who has worked with top celebrity chefs like Stewart, Julia Child and Mario Batali.
Ray has turned the conventional wisdom of American TV success on its head. She has stopped trying to tell Americans how they might want to live and instead simply reflects back to them the way they do live.
And not surprisingly they love her for it.
Rachael Ray Cookery Books for Every Occassion