The End Of "The Rachael Ray Show" May Not Be The End Of TV For Rachael Ray
Rachael Ray may be taking a bow on The Rachael Ray Show — but she sure isn't stepping out of the culinary spotlight. While the ending to such a staple television show is bittersweet, the food mogul is certainly proud of becoming a household name and won't place her talents on hold. Ray created a production company, Free Food Studios, allowing her to produce additional culinary shows — and she even mentioned that she wouldn’t be opposed to hopping back in front of the camera one day.
We can certainly use more of her Italian food tips, you know, with her spending most of her time at her breathtaking dream home in the Tuscan hills. If anyone reading this is headed to Florence, Italy this summer, Rachael also has you covered with the best restaurant spot that is a must-add to your itinerary (and hopefully you can snag an invite to her dreamy Italian villa as well — at least, that’s what we are hoping).
17 seasons in and countless recipes later, the ABC star talked to us about her career and life plans post-daytime talk show. Rachael recently partnered up with Genova Premium Tuna to create a new pasta recipe (perfect for the warmer months, BTW), and revealed some of the most underrated ingredients to throw in — ever heard of Agretti? The queen of EVOO is here to tell you everything you need to know.
B+C: Let’s start by talking about your partnership with Genova Premium Tuna. For those who don’t eat it, the fish is often generalized to be kind of gross and smelly. Do you have any tips on how to incorporate tuna into the kitchen for people who’ve never worked with it before?
I love tuna because it's so versatile and easy to work with, especially a high-quality product like Genova Premium Tuna. One of my favorite dishes that my family is loving right now is my Genova Yellowfin Tuna and Artichoke Pasta, which is inspired by the flavors of Tuscany. But you can incorporate tuna into a number of other dishes from appetizers and sides to easy entrees.
B+C: I love the idea of Mediterranean Al Fresco dining. Are there any tips you can give to still achieve this vibe but on a low budget?
When hosting friends and family at my home in Tuscany, I like to up my floral game by reaching into my garden and adding in some fresh herbs – it’s aesthetically pleasing and smells DELISH!
B+C: With summer on the way as well, you created a Genova Yellowfin Tuna and Artichoke Pasta. Can you walk me through how to make that? Any standout tips for home cooks out there making this recipe?
My number one tip is to focus on ingredients. Finding high-quality ingredients helps to elevate even the simplest of recipes. I love that Genova Premium Tuna is made with premium cuts of hand-filleted, wild caught yellowfin and albacore tuna, drizzled with just the right amount of olive oil, which is always my preference because it adds so much great flavor, and it has no additives or preservatives. Just tuna, premium olive oil, and a pinch of sea salt.
B+C: Are there any underrated summer ingredients that you like to throw in pasta besides artichokes? What are the top three local ingredients you find yourself using right now?
Not really, there’s one that's very hard to find in America. I've only found it here once — it's called Agretti. It's in season right now. I have some in the fridge that I brought home from Italy. It looks like seaweed, but it actually grows in sandy soil — and only in the spring. I put it with anchovy oil. You could also make it withGenova Premium Tuna, red pepper flakes and lemon. It's delicious.
B+C: Switching gears to speak on your final season of The Rachael Ray Show. How are you feeling about the show coming to an end?
My life didn't come to an end, and I'm sure I'll still work with many of the people I've been working with at the daytime show for years to come. I'm celebrating the 17 years we had on the show — it's extraordinary to have that kind of opportunity. I love everyone that worked with me — families were built at our show.
I have many, many, many projects coming up, and I'm gonna try and use as many of my friends as possible on them. But I'm extremely proud of our show. It showed people that anybody can be a Rachael Ray and that anybody can change the world on any given day.
B+C: Throughout all of your years filming, is there a funny memory with a guest that still gets you laughing?
There's a million. I mean, we've done over 2,700 shows of the daytime television show, so there's a lot of memorable moments, of course. Maybe one of my biggest laughs is when I almost killed Cloris Leachman…God rest her soul now. She slipped on set and literally fell in the kitchen. An ambulance came and took her to the hospital, and she was hitting on the EMTs while they were literally wheeling her away. A few weeks later she sent me the shoes she was wearing when she fell in a clear box. She signed them and wrote, “Thanks for almost killing me.”
B+C: Is there a recipe from the show that people constantly tell you that they make or just became a fan favorite?
I can't even count how many recipes I've written. I wrote every single recipe for every show. But if I had to pick a fan favorite, I would say anything that says Buffalo or Chili in front of it. I think my Buffalo Chicken Chili is the most downloaded recipe on our website.
B+C: With you being such a culinary inspiration throughout the years and having so many guests, is there anyone in the industry that has inspired you?
There are so many inspirations…my grandfather and my mother are probably my biggest inspirations in the kitchen because growing up we lived in the kitchen, and they instilled my work ethic in me. But everyone that I've ever worked with at Food Network is a huge inspiration — Emeril [Lagasse], Sarah Molten! I have so many dear friends like Bobby Flay and Anne Burrell. Guy [Fieri], I've known since the beginning of his career — I was his coach. There’re so many people that I just love and adore. Jacques Pepin is the greatest living! And chef José Andrés is my biggest partner in our philanthropic efforts. He's the reason I got to start my tours in Ukraine. I worked at the World Central Kitchen, and I'll be going back to Ukraine for my fifth time in June.
B+C: You also recently launched your production company, Free Food Studios. What projects are you looking to focus on? Any specific foods or locations?
We're currently filming another renovation show for A&E. Basically, we go to people's homes that have lost everything to fire or flood — or in two cases, people losing control of their cars and driving through homes — and we try to give 'em a leg up while they're rebuilding their lives. For example, we help them decorate and get the stuff that they need and want, and then we kind of bless the house by having a big food event. We break bread together, and they get to write all of their own menus that I cook for them. Some of them were unusual, but we give 'em whatever they want.
B+C: Would you ever consider going back in front of the camera after the show ends? Maybe for a Tuscany related show?
You bet. And we already filmed a renovation show that focused on my Tuscan home that aired and is streaming on A&E.
B+C: Florence is a hot spot in Italy, especially with the summer coming up. What’s your go-to restaurant spot there?
I haven't been to Florence in years because I live in Tuscany now, but I love Il Latini. It's a beautiful restaurant with a huge farm — a lot of what they serve in the restaurant comes from the owner’s farm. The owner's also very proud of his book collection. He was a big reader and has all his books that surrounded the dining room and hanging prosciutto that's dangling from the ceiling. It's always a wonderful, wonderful time to eat there.
B+C: So besides your production studio, what else is next for you?
I'm going to be working from both Italy and my home in upstate NY. So, it's gonna be a lot of work because I have a lot of TV projects planned — and about to be announced! So, I don't know that there's gonna be a lot of time for much else except, an occasional nap and my work in Ukraine.
Rachael Ray's Genova Yellowfin Tuna Pasta Recipe
Image via Rachel Ray
For the Artichokes
- Artichokes (fresh or canned, see instructions below)
- 12 small/baby artichokes
- 2 lemons
- 3 Tablespoons EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
- Salt & pepper (or red pepper)
For the Pasta
- 2 Tablespoons EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
- 4 Tablespoons butter, cut into tabs
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper, optional
- 1⁄2 cup white wine (you may use chicken or vegetable stock) 1 pound spaghetti or linguine
- 2 cans (5 ounces each) Genova Yellowfin Tuna in Olive Oil
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- 1⁄4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley, divided
- A small handful of fresh mint, chopped and divided 1⁄4 cup toasted pistachios, chopped (or pine nuts)
Image via Genova Tuna Fish
- Serves 4
- Prep Time 15 minutes
- Cook Time 40 minutes
For the Artichokes
- Preheat the oven to 425 F.
- If using fresh artichokes: Fill a bowl with cold water and the juice of 1 lemon. Trim the tops of the artichokes and a few of the tougher outer leaves. If using canned artichoke hearts in water, use 2 cans, drain well and quarter lengthwise.
- Using a vegetable peeler or small paring knife, trim the stems a bit.
- Halve the artichokes and place in the lemon water. Let soak for a few minutes, drain and pat dry on a kitchen towel.
- Arrange the artichokes in a casserole or baking dish and add the juice of the remaining lemon (then quarter the lemon) and throw the lemon wedges into the dish as well.
- Add the EVOO, salt and pepper (red pepper, if using).
- Roast for 25-30 minutes or until tender.
For the Pasta
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil to cook the pasta.
- While the water is coming to a boil, place a large skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil and butter. Add the garlic, red pepper (if using) and a sprinkle of salt and swirl a minute more. Add the white wine (or stock if using) and let reduce by half.
- When the water comes to a boil, salt the water, add pasta and cook a minute less than the directions. Reserve 1⁄2 cup of the pasta cooking water before draining.
- Add the artichokes into the large skillet along with the Genova Yellowfin Tuna with its oil and gently break up with the back of a wooden spoon or paddle.
- Add the lemon juice and starchy pasta cooking water to the skillet along with the drained pasta, cheese, half of the parsley and mint and pistachios. Toss to combine, top with the remaining herbs and serve.
You can enter for a chance to recreate Rachael's al fresco experience at-home at GenovaSeafood.com/alfresco/! Now through the end of May you could win the Ultimate Al Fresco Experiential Kit, including a custom al fresco-inspired design consultation that's directly approved by Rachael herself + a $20,000 budget to complete the project.
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This interview has been edited for clarity.
Header image John Lamparski/Getty Images for NYCWFF