Over the weekend at the Food Network's South Beach Wine and Food Festival, I attended a packed demo led by Rachael Ray. The self-proclaimed "burger and taco girl" sipped a kumquat margarita while she made fish tacos and a French bistro-inspired burger in a slinky black dress. Instead of focusing on teaching the crowd how to cook, Ray declared that "we're going to have a nice chat," and invited people to stand up and ask her questions. The result was an interesting look at Rachael Ray, the person, rather than Rachael Ray, the mega culinary personality. I learned some fun things about her — including what her next project with Food Network is! — so to find out about it, keep reading.
- Her favorite burger at Thursday night's Burger Bash was one that couldn't win. It was the sponsor Amstel Light's burger by chef Jonathan Sawyer. This lamb burger had anchovies in the patty and a creamy goat cheese topping. This burger was also one of my favorites from the night!
- On being constantly compared to Martha Stewart, Ray thinks "it's slightly insulting to her. I mean I don't sew or bake."
- The most exciting people she's had on her talk show? Michael J. Fox, President Clinton (who came the day she launched her charity), and "the Jennifers" (Lopez and Aniston). Of being able to work with such important celebrities, Ray says, "I pinch myself like 12 times a day! The Jennifers were so nice, so cool, and just plain fun, fun, fun."
- She's obsessed with The Galloping Gourmet. "My favorite food show to watch is on the Cooking Channel, it's The Galloping Gourmet with Graham Kerr. It's like watching an Oscar-winning movie in a person. He is so great."
- She knows how to please her husband. "John loves carbonara. My get-lucky food is anything with bacon and eggs."
- Guy Fieri joined Ray on stage at the end of her demo to announce that they will be working on a fun upcoming project together. It's a "culinary version of Dancing With the Stars" and should air on the Food Network sometime later this year.