Whether you love her or hate her, Rachael Ray, the Food Network's biggest star, is here to stay. Although 2008 was filled with many ups and downs, it was a huge year for Ray. Things got off to a rocky start in January, when a secondhand story claimed that Ray, a Dunkin' Donuts spokeswoman, refused to drink Dunkin's coffee, instead opting for Starbucks. A week later, Ray denied the claim as "absolutely ridiculous." In February, Ray happily hosted the wildly popular Burger Bash at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival, but March brought worries that her daytime television talk show would not be renewed. However, these rumors were quickly squashed when reports showed that her viewership was growing. The weirdest bombshell came in May when Michelle Malkin, a conservative commentator, accused Ray of supporting terrorists in a Dunkin' Donuts ad. The donut chain pulled the ad and released a statement clarifying that Rachael was simply wearing a stylish scarf and not a traditional headdress sometimes associated with terrorists.

Ray rose above the controversy to win a daytime Emmy for Outstanding Talk Show. In July she rolled out a line of pet food called Nutrish, and in early August Forbes named her the world's richest chef. The week before bringing the Burger Bash to New York City's first-ever Wine and Food festival, Ray revealed her plans to open a hamburger restaurant. Since then, Ray has laid low. She recently had throat surgery to get rid of her raspy voice and is currently taking some time off to recover.

What did you think about Ray's turbulent year? Will she continue to make headlines in 2009?

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