#TBT: Rachael Ray by Maria Russo in Food Network Chef, October 3rd, 2013
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It’s Thursday, and while that means everyone is just one day away from the weekend, it also means it’s time to throw back — to an earlier period in Food Network’s history. Check back on FN Dish every Thursday to find the latest #tbt of your favorite chefs and get a retro look at their earliest days on TV.
You may know Rachael Rayas one half of the dueling powerhouses on the Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity and Kids Cook-Off series, or as the friendly face in the kitchen showing you how to make meals for a Week in a Day. But before she tackled these projects or launched her own lifestyle magazine and syndicated daytime talk show, Rachael was a 30-minute maven, the queen of quick meals who could dish up a full, hearty supper in just half an hour.
Born in Glen Falls, N.Y., Rachael grew up in a food-focused family, then moved to New York City to run Macy’s candy counter and ultimately the store’s fresh-foods department. While in the city, she managed a specialty foods shop as well, but eventually returned upstate; it was this relocation that finally led her to the concept of 30-minute meals. She began teaching cooking classes called “30-Minute Mediterranean Meals” at the Albany market for which she was working, and given their enormous local popularity, it was only a matter of time before a regional television station welcomed her on board, launching her career in the television industry.
Rachael became part of the Food Network family in 2001, eventually premiering 30 Minute Meals along with several travel shows, including $40 a Day and Rachael Ray’s Tasty Travels. Check out these vintage photos of Rachael, cooking on an early 30 Minute Meals set and standing outside a bakery on $40 a Day. Her hairstyle and wardrobe choices may have changed in recent years, but today she’s more committed than ever to showing fans how deliciously simple it is to make meals fast. In her more than 12 years on the network, she’s continuously dished up both family-friendly fare and party-ready cuisine with ease, all while delivering her now beloved sayings; EVOO (extra virgin olive oil), spoonula (a cross between a spoon and a spatula) and yum-o are now household culinary terms, thanks to Rachael, who hasn’t once veered from her focused and relatable point of view in the kitchen.