What Rachael Ray Really Eats

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Celebrities often get pegged with a reputation for being notoriously fickle about food. You hear stories come out of Hollywood about how stars only dine on gourmet dishes, or you hear quite the opposite: that they rarely eat at all. But hey, Rachael Ray is a New York City girl — she's a total foodie. She'll be the first to tell you that food is yum-o (to borrow one of her signature catchphrases).

If you've ever picked up one of the more than 20 cookbooks that made Ray a New York Times bestseller or tuned into one of her cooking shows, you know food is her life. This brings up an interesting point, though. When you can cook the heck out of pretty much anything, what are your favorite things to eat? It's not as though Ray has any shortage of options. The woman could probably whip up a frittata made out of paper bags, broccoli stalks, and some salt in less than half an hour. And the kicker is, it would probably taste delish (there's another one of those catchphrases).

So, it all boils down (see what we did there?) to Ray's personal preferences. In doing a little digging, it's clear she truly is an equal opportunity eater — when profiled for her Rachael Ray Every Day magazine, she implied that all food is her favorite, insisting, "I eat anything." However, here are some of the foods the culinary maven frequently fawns over. 

All the pasta

Every self-respecting Rachael Ray fan knows she adores her Italian mama, Elsa Scuderi. In fact, Ray calls Scuderi her culinary mentor — and that includes teaching Ray how to cook and love Italian cuisine. In a profile in her eponymous magazine, Ray admitted when asked about her go-to comfort food, "I guess pasta is my favorite."

Still, Ray doesn't necessarily cook the food she craves. "I don't know that I have a favorite meal," she told The Adrienne Gale Experience. "When I'm cooking, I'm thinking about the person I'm feeding and I want to make them whatever they want." Ray cooks for her husband, John Cusimano, the most. What does the hubby like to eat? When asked by QVC about her favorite thing to cook, Ray replied, "Probably pasta carbonara for John. It's his favorite. We don't even get a chance to plate it, instead we eat it straight out of the pot. It's that good." (In August 2018, she shared photographic evidence on Instagram that supports this claim.)

And while carbonara is a savory dish, the story of the first time Ray made it for her then-boyfriend is super-sweet. "I knew my boyfriend was the man to marry when I asked him what he would like for his birthday dinner. I offered up lobster, steak, fine foods of all nationalities, to which he replied: 'Can I just have some of your carbonara?' Whoa! I was right about him..." she revealed in her cookbook Cooking 'Round the Clock

An impressive variety of burgers

Per the Rachael Ray blog, Ray has been dubbed the "Queen of Burgers." In a Food Network profile, she described herself as a "burger-obsessed person." At one point, she even apparently had plans to open a burger joint in midtown New York. While that doesn't appear to have come to fruition (not yet at least), it doesn't mean you can't get your hands on a Ray-style burger. You'll just have to make it yourself.

In addition to the wealth of burger recipes Ray has shared on her site and her shows over the years, the burger-lover devoted an entire cookbook to them in 2012. Aptly titled The Book of Burger, it's bursting with over 300 recipes for burgers, sliders, and basically, anything you can put on or in a bun.

"I am burger obsessed and I love playing with the idea of what a burger can be for people. I make burgers out of everything from grains to seafood to, of course, browned meats of every kind. What I love about the burger is it makes food accessible and fun for everyone," Ray told The Adrienne Gale Experience. "I have hundreds and hundreds of [recipes] never before published in my book of my burgers, but then I also have a bonus section of all of our award-winning chef burgers from our burger bash. And I invited all of my cheffy friends that are equally burger obsessed to do burger essays and odes to burgers." 

Hint: something incredible and edible

While there are undoubtedly cooks in the world who don't use eggs — be it because of allergies or food lifestyle choices — Rachael Ray isn't one of them. A quick glance at her website reveals she puts them on burgers, in ramen, eats them at any hour... the sky's the limit. Having said that, it isn't terribly shocking that Ray is a bit particular about the eggs she eats. In an interview with Food Network, she noted that eggs are "one of those grocery items worth paying a premium for." Per the site, she prefers Araucana eggs, a bluish-green egg produced by a South American breed of chicken. If Araucanas aren't available where you are, though, Ray recommends any cage-free egg from a small farm setting.

Ray uses her Araucana eggs to whip up all kinds of dishes, but there's one particular egg dish she can't seem to get enough of. In March 2018, just ahead of Easter, Ray wrote a letter to her blog readers to kick off new spring content. In it, she admitted she's a deviled egg fanatic. "One symbol of spring grabs my attention more than all the others: the egg. I am stuffed-egg obsessed," she said, adding that her favorites are her traditional deviled eggs, her Caesar eggs, and her crème fraîche, dill, and chive eggs topped with caviar.

Fresh-off-the-vine tomatoes

Given how successful she is, Rachael Ray could likely have her pick of the most expensive, exquisite, gourmet food around the globe. And, sure, she probably does occasionally and relishes every bite. But when it comes right down to it, the food she reaches for time and again is far more humble: the simple tomato.

In 2013, she revealed to USA Today that the tomato is her favorite fruit, and she often scoops them up at her local New York farmers markets — a great way, she told the outlet, to score them for a steal. "It's the last bargain left in food," she said of the farmers markets. "You can ask for seconds at any place and they will give you less-than-perfect things that taste delicious, like tomatoes."

Fortunately for Ray, she can also pick them right out of her Adirondacks garden. In August 2018, Ray noticed her good friend Oprah Winfrey (no big deal, right?) had shared an Instagram post about fresh fruits and veggies. In return, Ray posted an enviable spread of vine-ripened tomatoes and sauce, writing, "Hey @Oprah, saw your beautiful bounty from #HarvestDay. We're rolling deep in Upstate NY! Tomato fest from our garden — today's fresh picked." To quote the tomato-connoisseur herself, "Delish!" 

Cheese, cheese, and more cheese

Just as Ray's Italian roots show through in her love for pasta, they surface again in one of her other foodie delights. She went so far as to tell QVC that if she could only eat one food for the rest of her life, it would probably be cheese. That's no small thing.

Of course, there are many varieties of cheese. And even though it seems like a safe bet to say Ray likes 'em all, she's admittedly partial to a few. In 2015, the Rachael Ray Show staff divulged all of Ray's most beloved cheeses in honor of the then-release of her cookbook Everyone Is Italian on Sunday (via Yahoo). Curious yet?

For starters, Ray refers to Parmigiano-Reggiano as "the king of all cheeses." She apparently digs its nutty flavor. Taleggio, a "stinky cheese," is the top pick of Ray's husband John — and she obviously enjoys it when he finds fulfillment in food. "If you love feta, you'll love ricotta salata," Ray said of another favorite. "It's ricotta drained of its whey, and can be grated or crumbled, and can be used in pasta or salads."

It goes without saying that people with a profound appreciation for cheese are the best people. 

Ain't no thing but a chicken wing (or leg)

Spend five minutes on Ray's website, and you'll walk away with more chicken recipes than you know what to do with. Same goes for Instagram, too — this poultry proves to be one of the bubbly cook's go-to dishes for social media sharing. Who can blame her, right? Chicken is a classic in the kitchen for a reason. Plus, it's Rachael Ray; she has a ton of tricks up her sleeve when it comes to breaking out of your plain chicken wing and/or rut.

Take her Insta feed, for example. In January 2018, she shared a drool-worthy snapshot of "Whisky Wings." In April 2018, she shared a recipe for Japanese chicken wings made with mirin, smoked shoyu, gochujang chili paste, ginger, garlic, and toasted sesame oil/seed. Just a few days later, Ray snapped another photo of the "easy and amazing balsamic chicken legs" she'd made for dinner.

But in July 2018, Ray took to Instagram to share the holy grail of all chicken recipes: her "Fried, Tried, and True" chicken legs. "Brine in buttermilk, hot sauce, eggs. Dredge in AP flour, granulated garlic & onion, paprika, B&W pepper, salt, allspice, cayenne, toasted & ground cumin, caraway, coriander, fennel & mustard seeds. Fry at 350 to golden brown & 165 internal temp — if not done, finish in oven at 300," Ray explained. It's no wonder Ray deemed these "great for the Fourth [of July]... or first or last of any day, any month!" 

After-dinner salads

Thanks to her Italian heritage, Rachael Ray grew up in a household accustomed to a Mediterranean diet. In full disclosure, despite the fact the term "Mediterranean diet" is used very generally, U.S. News & World Report notes that there is no such thing as one version of this dietary lifestyle. However, at its core, it is a diet "low in red meat, sugar, and saturated fat and high in produce, nuts and other healthful foods."

In March 2018, Ray visited the Dr. Oz show to offer insight into the diet's must-haves. At the top of that list? Salad chock-full of vibrant veggies topped with healthy acids and olive oil. "Beets, colorful peppers — so sweet or hot peppers — and dark greens, they're all activated by the olive oil. They're fat-soluble nutrients, right?" Ray elaborated, adding, "Great for brain power." Just as interesting, though, is when Ray eats her salads. "After [the main course]. Always after," she insisted. "It's a digestive thing, quite frankly. But you know, we would put them out on the table at the same time, but we all eat our salad after dinner."

But there's one thing you'll never catch Ray eating in her salad, no matter what time of day. "Oh my god, the chopped lettuce in a sack sucks! Stop it!" she said during her Rachael Ray Every Day "Like a Boss" panel in February 2019 (via Food & Wine). "I'm sorry, sue me lettuce industry. It smells weird and it costs more."

Sardines, if you please

Right now, you might be going, "Sardines? Blech!" On the other hand, the mere mention of sardines could have kicked your craving into high-gear. This little fish is a truly polarizing dish, with people either loving it or hating it. Make no mistake, though; Rachael Ray's Mediterranean diet means she loves sardines.

"An essential in our diet — essential — is fish. Seafood. Sardines, my favorite sandwich in life," she said during a 2018 appearance on the Dr. Oz show. "Oh, I love sardines. I put them on the grill, I roast them in the oven, pasta con le sarde is one of my favorites," she went on the gush, getting emotional before adding, "Stale bread and sardines makes me cry because it makes me think of my grandpa."

The previous year, she'd opened up during an episode of her show about how her love for sardines was rooted in her grandfather. A typical day in his company, Ray explained, meant hanging out with his friends and eating "sardine sandwiches with lots of onions."

That wasn't the first time Ray had alluded to sardine memories with her grandpa, either. In 2007, she confessed to People that her lunchbox made her very unpopular in grade school: "I had the lunchbox that cleared the cafeteria... Because I hung out with my grandfather, I started to bring my lunchbox with sardine sandwiches and calamari that I would eat off my fingers like rings." 


It should come as little surprise to anyone that Rachael Ray likes pizza. Nay, loves pizza. She openly embraces her Italian roots, and it's no big secret that Italians pretty much wrote the book on pizza. In September 2018, Ray gave a nod to both of these things with a special edition of her magazine aptly titled "How to Live Like an Italian."

In an article by the same name within the mag's pages, "share the pie" was listed as one of the pointers for living like a paisano. "Pizza is an individual thing in Italy," Wade Moises, chef at Rosemary's Pizza in New York City, told the publication. "In America, it's more communal." Either way, though, it's not a solitary food. "No matter how you slice it (or don't), pizza is a social activity that is best shared with others," Ray's team advised.

And it would seem Ray has that part down pat. Per The New York Times, she has a wood-burning pizza oven in her kitchen. So, if she and husband, fellow Italian John Cusimano, choose to dine in, they can whip up pizza à deux anytime they want. If they're going out though, Ray would no doubt hit up one of two places where she says you'll find the best pizza in America: Motorino Pizzeria or The Harvest Restaurant, which happens to have a "Rachael Ray" pizza on the menu, topped with hot cherry peppers, green peppers, and red onion. Can we assume this is the celeb chef's favorite pie?

Soup and sammies

Rachael Ray has used the term "sammie" so much in her career that there are literally comment threads devoted to whether or not she is to blame for the invention of this cutesy sandwich nickname. In a ranking of Ray's most well-known (okay, okay, their word was "annoying") catchphrases cataloged by HuffPost in 2013, "sammie" came in second place. Ray has a section of her website devoted to sammies. She has used some of her favorite sammie recipes for a fun, silly, tasty segment called "Sammie Smackdown." So, you might say Ray lives that good sammie life, even going so far as to create her own line of "soup and sammie" dishes.

She has so many recipes, in fact, that she probably couldn't narrow down her favorite sammie if you asked her for just one. But she probably would recommend, no matter what sammie you have, serving it with soup. "What's better than a versatile soup and sammie combo?" a 2008 post on her website reads. "It makes a great weekend lunch or weekday lunchbox specialty for adults and kids alike." Among the mouthwatering pairings Ray recommends? Clam "chowda" mug o' soup with deviled ham and cheese melt mug toppers, black bean soup with southwestern Monte Cristo sandwiches, and cauliflower-cheddar soup with ham and spicy mustard pinwheel dippers. Yum-o, indeed. 

Vino, vino

Fine, this isn't technically a food. Although if you consider how much Rachael Ray uses it in her cooking, it sort of qualifies, right? Bottom line: Wine is an important part of Ray's daily dietary habits — and her fascination with it started early. Like, really early.

During a November 2018 interview with actor-writer-director Alan Alda, Ray revealed a hilarious anecdote about how "vino" wound up being her first word. "So [my grandpa] got sick of chasing the formula bottle, because I would throw, literally chuck the bottle across the room out of my crib. So he got fed up with it. So he started taking the bottle and filling it with water and adding a little of his fancy wine," Ray said. "And he would hold up my baba, and go, 'Vino, vino. Vino, vino.'" Subsequently, there's an old Polaroid in circulation with baby Ray reaching her hand up in the air that reads, "Rachael's first word: vino, vino."

These days, Ray has a deep appreciation for wine. "If you want to enjoy your life more, you might try living it more like an Italian," she said in Rachael Ray Every Day in September 2018. "A big laugh, a glass of wine, time to talk and laugh with each other, taking a moment to notice the simple pleasures — these are the keys to quality of life."