What Rachel Ray Did Before She Became A Celebrity Chef

Rachael Ray is a staple for anyone who enjoys cooking shows, and especially for those who have enjoyed created her famous 30-minute meals. She made her TV debut in 2006 when she was discovered hosting cooking classes out of upstate New York gourmet market Cowan and Lobel. Her 30-minute Mediterranean meal classes became wildly popular, and she was signed on to CBS to do a 30-minute meal segment at night (via Food Network). Her first cookbook followed shortly after and began flying off of shelves, marking the beginning of Ray's success story as a celebrity chef.

Ray has since released countless cookbooks featuring recipes for her beloved 30-minute meal recipes, launched a lifestyle magazine called Every Day With Rachael Ray, and begun her own hour-long TV show called "Rachael Ray." 

The chef didn't always see fame as the direction her life would go in, though. Of her success, Ray says, "my life has been a total accident — a very happy, wonderful accident that I didn't and couldn't have planned." Before she achieved mega-stardom in the cooking world, Ray lived a normal life with humble beginnings in Glen Falls, New York (via Biography).

Rachel Ray's family inspired her love of cooking

At its root, Rachael Ray's love of food was inspired by her Italian grandfather. With a lineage from the Sicilian area of Italy, her grandfather inspired some of her favorite recipes to this day. 

In an interview with Rachael Ray Magazine, Ray said, "My grandfather knew how to make everything, and fortunately he taught my mother. There are too many recipes to think of picking a favorite, but if I had to: stuffed artichokes, with tons of anchovies, bread crumbs, and cheese." On one particular day in school, Ray's grandfather was the person who told her not to listen when other kids made fun of her for bringing a traditional sardine sandwich to school in her school lunch (via Insider). Food was a family affair, and she still incorporates her learnings in her cooking today.

After learning to cook for her large family with her grandparents, Ray worked alongside her relatives at her family's restaurants in the Cape Cod area of Massachusetts. She got experience in every corner of the restaurants, from the host stand to the kitchen. Recalling that experience, Ray said, "I was surrounded by all different styles of cooking and worked in the foodservice industry in just about every capacity you can imagine" (via Food Network).

Rachel Ray loved her time in the industry before fame

Keeping in close proximity to food, Rachael Ray continued in the food industry after moving on from the family business. She began her professional career after moving to New York and working behind the candy counter at Macy's, where she eventually worked her way up to the position of Fresh Foods Department manager. Looking back on those years, Ray credits her gourmet food knowledge to her time at Macy's (via Food Network).

Like many chefs, she stresses the importance of working in all positions in the food industry. In her book "Rachael Ray 50: Memories and Meals from a Sweet and Savory Life," she stated, "I think that everybody should have to be a dishwasher. I think that everybody should learn how to take an order and serve people, you know?"

Inspired by the traditional ways of cooking she inherited from her family, Ray clearly laid a foundation in her craft early on. While she may not have known that her 30-minute meals would be so well-loved, we're certainly glad she decided to share them.