Who Is Rachael Ray's Famous Mentor?

Rachael Ray is one of the most famous names in food and beyond. She has a brand of dog food, and her own talk show, aptly named "The Rachael Ray Show." Behind all that success, with the star being worth an astounding $100 million, would you believe that Ray actually has someone she looks up to (via Celebrity Net Worth)?

First, it may surprise many of the home cook's fans that Ray's mentor is not in the food world. But the person the cookbook author admires does have a lot in common with her. Consider that Ray's mentor has also built an empire, including having had her own talk show, magazine, and line of branded products (via CBS News).

No, we aren't talking about Ellen DeGeneres, although that is a good guess if you were thinking of the comedian as being an inspiration for Ray. Instead, it's Oprah Winfrey who once had the Food Network personality on her show, and is now someone Ray considers a friend and mentor (via The Travel).

Rachael Ray credits Oprah Winfrey in large part for her success

The year was 2005, and Ray would appear as a guest on "The Oprah Winfrey Show" (via The Rachael Ray Show). Taking to the stage in 2017 to help Ray commemorate the 2,000th episode of her show, Winfrey told the audience about its host, "Even then, I knew it. She was the real deal."

In fact, according to ABC News, Winfrey is to thank for Ray's success, given that the rising star appeared on the established talk show many times during its tenure, and that the former helps to produce the latter's show today.

Meanwhile, as Ray told Howard Stern in 2019 about her first meeting with Winfrey, "A couple years after Food Network, I get called by 'The Oprah Show' to come on and cook with Oprah. I was literally speechless." Despite her jitters, the segment went well, and as Ray said about her mentor, "I have to tell you she is delightful and has changed the course of my life and my family's life."