TV cook shares her recipe for success in Naperville appearance
By David Sharos For the Sun December 14, 2012 9:54PM
TV personality and celebrity chef Rachael Ray hosted a question-and-answer session with Anderson's Bookshop to promote her new cookbook with her husband, John Cusimano, on Dec. 14, 2012, in Naperville IL. | Terence Guider-Shaw~For Sun-Times Media
Ray talks about food, family and Food Network friends
Food Network star, author, and television host Rachel Ray appeared at Naperville North High School Friday to talk about her newest cookbook, “My Year in Meals,” which was co-authored by her husband John Cusimano.
Ray spoke with The Sun before appearing before more than 300 fans and talked about her work as an author of more than 20 books and well as her life as a celebrity.
Q: Looking at this book, it looks like a food biography. Is that right?
A: “We’ve been working on it for a couple of years now. This project started when a friend of mine came to my hometown and helped me do a fundraiser. We made pizzas at midnight and he took pictures of it and he said you guys should do this, you should just show people what you make at home and we just started it for fun. I kept a separate notebook, and John does mixology on the weekends and works as a lawyer during the week. After a year we took it to the publisher and they said this is cool, let’s do this. It’s certainly the largest collection ever.”
Q: This is your 21st book. Which is your favorite?
A: “I like them all for different reasons. I like our ‘Yummo’ book and children’s books and I love the first book, the original ‘30-Minute Meals’ that we sold in grocery stores before anybody knew who I was, and ‘Book of Burger’ because I’m burger obsessed. “
Q: If you could only eat one thing, what would it be? Are burgers your thing?
A: “Our go-to if it is late at night is a simple pasta. It’s the most comforting.”
Q: How do you see people using this book?
A: “I think it’s a nice visit. There is a lot of personal storytelling in it and a lot of different types of food. There are vegetarian recipes and I rarely teach breakfast items on the show. There literally is something for everyone: holiday meals, make-ahead meals, easy entertaining. And it’s easy to use when you see the whole month at a glance.”
Q: What about the cocktails in the book? What do you see as the favorite items?
A: “John’s Bloody Mary’s or Bloody Johnny’s are insane. They are delicious and the best I’ve ever had.”
Q: You are one of the pioneers at Food Network. Who do you still hang with?
A: “I see Emeril Lagasse who comes on our show a few times a year. I see Bobby Flay a lot as he lives very near to us in the city. I see Mario Batali several times a year. We see a lot of them. There isn’t anybody I don’t love. There are no grumpy people on the Food Network. They’re all fed.”
Q: Mario Batali talked about you and said “you have out distanced all of us and she’s got more energy than all of us put together.”
A: “He’s just being kind. Mario is an insane lover of life. He lives so big and beautiful. The work he does in humanitarian efforts is incredible and he makes time for his family. He’s like Yoda for me. He really gets the balance.”
Q: Of all the things you’ve done, the shows, the magazine, the books, what’s your favorite thing you’ve done?
A: “I love all of them. Everything I do for a living is what I do during a day off from another job.”
Updated: January 17, 2013 6:43AM
Of all the famous television personalities to emerge from The Food Network, Rachael Ray continues to take the country by storm with her cookbooks, magazine and variety of TV shows.
Ray appeared Friday night at Naperville North High School to promote her latest book, “My Year in Meals,” a collection of recipes influenced by her trips around the world. Ray’s husband, John Cusimano, appeared alongside his wife Friday. He wrote a separate portion of the book dedicated to cocktails.
The event was sponsored by Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville.
The spunky and energetic cook drew hundreds to the event, many armed with copies of her books.
“I keep recipes on these little slips of paper and we basically worked on this for a couple of years,” Ray said. “The publishers felt this was a great idea for a book.”
She said the photographs in the book are home photos of the dishes.
The audience spoke enthusiastically about the ease of cooking with Ray’s recipes and the quick and healthy options she offers.
“I own 10 of her books and I’m anxious to try some of the new ones in this book,” said Janet O’Neil of Vernon Hills. “I work and so I love the easy recipes she offers and I also enjoy watching her shows. I think she is funny and I like the guests she has, and we’re both part Italian.”
Nancy Nyberg, of Naperville, said she planned to give extra copies of Ray’s book as gifts and that she was thrilled to see one of her cooking heroes.
“I think Rachael’s style of cooking is healthier than most, and there are things you can make with your kids and your grandkids,” she said. “The recipes she has make cooking fun.”
Healthy cooking was also something Pam Saari, of Naperville, liked about Ray’s recipes. She said she finds the author to be “down to earth and approachable.”
Ray also has fans among the younger set, including 12-year-old Jamie Love, of Naperville, who said Ray has inspired her to become a chef herself.
“It looks really easy to make the things she cooks on TV and it also seems fun,” she said. “My mom likes the fact that I cook, and she said I can make things in the kitchen any time I want.”