Rachael Ray Dishes Up An Inside Look At Her Home Renovation Series - Exclusive Interview

Over the last few years, Rachael Ray has been cooking up something special: her very own dream home in Italy. 

After a fire destroyed her stateside home in 2020, creating a comfortable space in Tuscany is even more sentimental than ever to the cook. Now, fans get to be a part of each and every special moment as she and her husband John turn the hillside stable into a living space on "Rachael Ray's Italian Dream Home." From the custom mural on her living room wall to the second kitchen she now has in her bedroom, the Tuscan property is one that Ray has envisioned having all her life. This season, however, she's on major a time crunch. Her team must complete the entire renovation in time for her anniversary.

We had the opportunity to ask the TV personality all about the highs and lows of having her home makeover in front of millions of viewers. In an exclusive interview with The List, Ray opened up about the most difficult parts of shooting her home renovation show, shared the must-have item that was nearly impossible to get for her Italian dream kitchen, and reflected on how her definition of a "home" completely changed after losing hers to a fire.

Rachael Ray shares what it was like shooting the reality show

What did you say that finally convinced John to also want to purchase what is now your Italian dream home?

I simply informed him that was the place I was going to buy. He was disappointed, to say the least. He said there was plenty of properties along the road that said "in vendita," which means "for sale," that already had toilets and electricity, but this was the place I wanted. He loves it now. He has a place for his piano. It's becoming his life's dream, too, but this was my life's dream since I was a little girl, and this is the substance of my life's work.

Renovating a home can be stressful. What was the most challenging part of shooting "Rachael Ray's Italian Dream Home"?

A home, large or small, whether it's an apartment or a big property, is stressful. You don't know if you can really afford it. You don't know if you deserve it. You don't know if you can handle the burden of it, and there is always burden. There is never a moment that doesn't have burden attached to it, whether you're constructing it or reconstructing it or it sinks, or it burns. I've lived through all of it. There is no moment of being attached to anything in life that isn't emotional, but isn't that the point of life?

If something's truly going to make you happy, shouldn't you at least know that you tried to achieve it? Everyone fails. Some of us succeed and some of us don't, but the point is the journey and that we tried our best to get there.

Was there a challenging part of shooting the show?

The fact I'm being shot. I'm a very private person, or I used to be a few years ago before the pandemic, before the project in Italy. I was a very private person. I'm very open when I'm at work. I love sharing with people, because I want them to feel like we're really connecting, but when I go home, I'm actually usually quiet.

When you're in the middle of construction or building or rebuilding your life, it's very stressful. There are very bad moments and a lot of great moments, but you're showing the public your world.

Here's what she had to have in her Italian home's kitchen

What are some of the most important things to consider when building a kitchen in a dream home?

That was a tragedy for this build. I thought I chose the perfect kitchen and tried to communicate that to the team, because I could not be on site because of a pandemic. The team were trying their absolute best to make me happy, but I certainly wasn't, and it was the polar opposite of what I thought I was doing. That was a complete do over.

That's life, too. It's never gonna be your perfect idea, and you have to kind of adapt that idea to what you can do versus what you can't do. Eventually, I did get the kitchen that I wanted in Italy, which I love, and it's great.

What was the one thing you had to have in your Italian kitchen?

My stove, which was the wrong stove, three times. 

What stove did you end up with?

I ended up with what I wanted. I needed a strong commercial grade stove. That's what I thought I was getting, but what I first got was like cooking over a Bic lighter. Eventually, I got there, and today, I can cook for many people.

Rachael Ray reflects on the fire that destroyed her family home

Has losing your own home to a fire had any impact on how you approached building your Italian home?

Losing your home makes you rethink your entire life and what is a home. I learned that a home is where my husband and my dog are. How close I am to my mom — that's a home. The places are important to me and this is my life's dream, but you understand very quickly once you lose what you think is everything, [all] that you have are your memories.

When I lived in two rooms, I was very proud of my home and tried to be a homemaker and a home keeper. I wanted to create a place that I wanted to come home to everyday. It didn't matter the size of the space. This home is a beautiful reality that came out of tragedies: that I could rebuild my home here and that I could have a home in Italy after 50 years of work. That's what matters. What I know now is that it's a state of mind more than it's a state of place.

You open up a lot about your life to your fans. Is there anything that's off-limits?

I haven't hit it yet, but I probably will at some point. I will never tell stories that I think are hurtful about other people. I will never try and make people feel sorry for me or pity me. I have no more or less pain than other busy people. We all go through the same stuff. I try and share, but I do try and take care not to purposely hurt people.

The iconic cook tells us her favorite television moments

Who have you not had on your talk show that you would love to bring on?

You know, that's such a strange question. There is an endless list, but I've already had such a rich life. Oprah hosted my 2,000th show. She hosted me at my show. Michael J. Fox has been a huge part of our show. President Clinton helped me launch my Yum-o! organization charity for kids. I've had so many honors and been graced by so much.

Jake Gyllenhaal, I wanted him to be my very first guest, and he couldn't come last minute. He sent me flowers, and then 12 or 13 years later, he actually came on, and I went to work at 4:00 a.m. to cook for him, like personally.

If you could have one other chef cook dinner for you, who would it be?

Two words: Marcella Hazan.

You've already accomplished so much over the course of your career. What's something you have yet to tackle that you would love to do next?

I change my mind about that daily. I am now trying to produce people who I truly admire, and their work is important. I want to share other people's stories now, not just my own.

I want to keep showing the world anybody can be a Rachael Ray. This gets me into different places, like design, gardening, home stuff. I have different ideas about life every day, and I love to learn. I'm always chatting with everyone that I trust about what they think should come next. I am always listening.

New episodes of "Rachael Ray's Italian Dream Home" air Monday nights at 9 p.m. on FYI.