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Rachael Ray on the Loves of Her Life, Guilty Pleasures, and Her Haters

PARADE Modified: April 6, 2012 at 6:01 pm •  Published: April 4, 2012
With several cooking shows on the Food Network, dozens of best-selling cookbooks, a successful magazine, and a Daytime Emmy-winning talk show, celebrity chef Rachael Ray’s passions have remained the same over the years: cooking, her hubby of six years, John Cusimano, and their pit bull Isaboo — though not necessarily in that order!

In addition to the work Ray, 43, does with her nonprofit organization Yum-O!, she has teamed up with the ASPCA for the third annual $100K Challenge, a contest that inspires animal shelters across the country to get more homeless cats and dogs out of shelters and into loving homes.

Ray talked to about the $100K Challenge and dished on her favorite meal to cook at home, her surprising dream job, and more.

On the ASPCA Rachael Ray $100K Challenge.
“Just like with Yum-O!, I don’t want to throw big, expensive, flashy parties to raise money. We created a line of pet food called Nutrish that’s made to human standards, and 100 percent of the proceeds go to animal rescue. One of our top-tier donors is the ASPCA, and they help us challenge animal shelters all across the country to get more animals placed in homes. The more placements a shelter makes could earn them up to $100,000. For a small shelter, a little bit of money goes a long, long way. I’m a huge animal lover, so it’s exciting to see people care and help support animals.”[Editor's note: Animal shelters across the nation earn their slots in the $100K Challenge by getting the most online votes from their community members during an initial qualifying heat (April 5 — 16). Find out more at]

Where does your endless energy come from?
“I love what I do. I do for a living what I would do on a day off from any other job. I get to cook food that I love and share that with people. I get to chat with world leaders, athletes, rock stars, movie stars, and interact with our viewers. I have this extraordinary life during the day, and then I get to come home to my sweet husband who loves to cook with me. I have a nice glass of wine, he has some scotch, we chat, we cook, and we hang out with the dog. I have an absolute dream life. It’s extraordinary that anybody gets lucky enough to do what they love and get paid for it, and it’s just beyond belief that its afforded me such a great life for my family. That’s why I’m so passionate about giving back as much as I can.”

Is there anything about you that may surprise your fans?
“They might be surprised by how much I actually like to cook. When I go to my house in upstate New York, we invite house guests nine out of the 10 times that we go up there just so I have enough people to cook for. When I have a whole day off, forget about it — I cook enough for an army! People may also be surprised to know that I like to jump out of airplanes. And the weirdest thing about me is that I’ve had a recurring dream my whole life that I get into a bar fight. I start breaking pool sticks and I beat everyone up in the bar. That’s kind of creepy and I don’t understand it, but apparently I want to be in an action movie! My dream job is to be a rock drummer and the alternate drummer for the Foo Fighters. If I’m not making television, I’m always in pajamas or Adidas sweats or beat-up blue jeans and a t-shirt. There’s a lot of things that may surprise people, but I talk so much on air, people are probably sick of hearing about me!”

Get Rachael Ray's Cubano Burger Recipe!

What’s your No. 1 guilty pleasure food?
“I have never associated food with guilt. I don’t feel guilty about eating a pizza or a hotdog or a hamburger. I think that life should be lived in moderation. Unfortunately, I didn’t learn until I was a 40-year-old that meaningful exercise really does matter, too. I think I’m in better shape now than I’ve been in a long time. I go to the gym six days a week and I’ve learned to love it, and because I make that time, I feel like I’m OK if I have a piece of pizza or French fries with lunch. I don’t really feel guilt.

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