Rachael Ray has replaced Emeril as the Food Network’s biggest star

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(Photo: Businessweek.)

Like spending 30 minutes a day with Rachael Ray? If so, you’ll be happy to know that she’s just signed a 2-year contract with the Food Network, Reuters reports.

Rachael will film 60 more episodes of the wildly popular 30 Minute Meals, less than last year’s count of 80. She’s also expanding her Food Network repertoire with a new primetime show, Rachael’s Vacation, airing Jan. 12.

Whether you love Rachael or find her despicable, she’s here to stay, at least for a little while.  Personally, I credit her (and the Food Network) for cultivating my cooking skills.

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6 Responses to “Rachael Ray has replaced Emeril as the Food Network’s biggest star”

  1. Oh susannah…

    While Emeril live had taken all the dignity from a guy who once sorta knew how to cook (watch the old episodes of “essence of emeril”, before he was peddling asian chicken salad to a live audience), I’m not surprised he was still considered too talented and knowledgeable. In Bill Buford’s book Heat, he describes his interviews with FN reps who admitted that in the nineties, they made it the mission of the network to stop focusing on the food but instead on developing “personalities”. Several of the original FN executives have quit since then due to the horrible programming they have come up with, spearheaded by Rachael Ray. The epitome of this is “The Next Food Network Star”. Everyone on that show is an incompetent cook.

  2. What qualifies someone as an unqualified or qualified cook? Most of these personalities (Giada de Laurentiis, Emeril Lagasse, Tyler Florence, Bobby Flay) went to culinary schools and have worked in numerous kitchens. I suppose that doesn’t include Rachael Ray, though.

  3. By qualified, I mean a knowledge of basic cooking techniques and a certain aptitude when handling food. Watching Rachael Ray cook is a nightmare. She cooks meat and vegetables incorrectly. This doesn’t really have to do with being a trained chef, but a competent home cook. But Rachael Ray’s brand is about capitalizing on the fact that most people don’t know about food. She’s not the only one either: Ellie Whatsername, Robin Miller, SANDRA LEE, the “Hearty” boys…etc.

    I actually kind of like Tyler Florence’s show, and Bobby Flay’s too (though I think it can be a little inaccessible for the average cook). But you don’t have to be a chef to be a good cook. Julia Child was never a chef (though she did go to culinary school). Ina Garten is a great cook, but is far from a chef. James Beard was only a caterer for a bit. However, all of these people made sure they learned a lot about food and how to prepare it, and never stopped learning. This is the same for many food writers, like Mark Bittman and Michael Bauer. Both speak authoritatively on something which they really know little about. At the same time, culinary school won’t guarantee you mad skillz. Giada DeLaurentiis, aside from having a personality almost as bad as Ray’s, makes really uninteresting food and seems to have trouble cooking basic things.

  4. As much as I hate Rachael Ray, after reading Michael Ruhlman’s book, “The Reach of a Chef,” I at least respect her for knowing who she is and who her audience is. There’s no pretense with Rachael Ray, and her target audience is the same as Sandra Lee’s…people with minimal cooking skills who virtually no time to cook but still want to prepare their own meals. These people can’t even relate to someone like Mark Bittman. His Minimalist column is one of my favorites, but truth be told, a typical Rachael Ray fan would probably find it too complicated.

    The fact is that aside from Iron Chef America, which is the only show left that showcases real chefs, the Food Network has abandoned foodies and gone after the lowest common denominator…because that’s where the money is.

  5. I’ve never read Bittman’s Minimalist column — I will have to check it out. You make a valid point that has never occurred to me, but I think it makes a lot of sense. The food network has abandoned a lot of foodies and serious cooks over the years. Batali and Emeril didn’t renew their contracts, while individuals like Rachael Ray Paula Deen are the network’s stars.

  6. thegourmetpig Says:

    Bittman is too complicated? He’s really just Rachael Ray with a bigger vocabulary..

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