Turning up the Heat: Rachael Ray Is On Fire

The executives at Cowan and Lobel were not sure if hiring Ray to be the chef at their store was such a good idea in the end. Her prepared dishes were, after all, even outpacing the store’s grocery sales. But Ray had an idea to solve the problem.

It was the busy holiday season when Ray began to initiate a new series of cooking classes. One course in particular that taught people how to make “30-Minute Mediterranean Meals” caught the attention of the local media. After an article about her course appeared in a local newspaper, television executives at WRGB-TV in Albany offered Ray the chance to host her own weekly cooking special as a segment on their evening news program.

Ray’s television personality was engaging and enthusiastic, and audiences began falling in love with her. In her segment’s first year, it was nominated for two regional Emmy awards, and 10,000 companion cookbooks were also sold. In 2001, Ray’s popularity was rising so fast that she was asked to appear on NBC’s “Today Show”. That was a turning point in Ray’s career.

The president of the Food Network saw Ray on the “Today Show” and was so impressed with what he saw that he offered her a cooking show on the spot. Her first show was “30-Minute Meals,” and its success has led to a healthy relationship for Ray and the Food Network ever since its debut.

Ray’s second show, “$40 a day,” was launched in 2002 and proved no less successful than her first. Two years later, Ray began working on “Inside Dish,” a celebrity-based food show, and was followed not long after by “Tasty Travels.”

But Ray did not just leave her popularity to the world of television. Using the success of her programs, Ray decided to launch a series of cookbooks. Today, all of those books have become best-sellers. From “30-Minute Meals” to “Comfort Foods” to “Cooking Rocks! Rachael Ray 30-Minute Meals for Kids,” Ray’s books were flying off bookshelves around the U.S. In November, Ray will release her most ambitious project to date, “365: No Repeats.” Her 16 cookbooks have together grossed almost $5 million in sales.

After getting her feet wet with cookbooks, Ray decided to launch her own lifestyle magazine, “Every Day with Rachael Ray.” As Editor-In-Chief, Ray has witnessed the explosion of the magazine’s popularity. Published by Reader’s Digest, it has a circulation of 1.7 million.

Ray’s “30-Minute Meals” remains the Food Network television’s most popular and highest rated show. Her shows combined have 11 million viewers tuned in each and every week. Recently, she even added her own “Rachael Ray” show to the list, a daytime talk show that had the highest rated debut of any show since “Dr. Phil.”

Ray has her critics, namely those who think that a person with no professional culinary training has no business teaching others how to cook. But, Ray’s success continues to prove them wrong as fans keep coming back for more.

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