Rachael Ray: Delish or Not?

AKIE BERMISS: Delicious: On the Rocks

Probably, like so many men out there, I am just a closet-romantic.  It could be said I drink too much and do too little to be anything else.  I watch more than my fair share of romantic comedies, I admire the grand gesture, and star-crossed lovery gets me every time.  And so I know its going to be a challenge for me to write this article: the hot or not article.

I need to appeal to the baser demons of my nature and reveal out the concrete truth: that Rachael Ray is hot.

Hot Is Hot Is Hot Is Hot…

The trick here is to be objective.  As a recent episode of The Office pointed out, there is a vast gulf of difference between whether someone is empirically hot or whether you would “do” them.  And, I suppose, this works both ways.  Angelina Jolie?  Empirically hot.  But I don’t think I’d sleep with her given the chance.  She really quite terrifies me.  On the other hand there are levels of objectivity.  Rachael Ray is on television so we want to compare her with the starlets and bunnies therein.  And yet, if you look at other women with solo daytime talk/variety/cook/craft shows… Ray is CLEARLY the hottest.  So here’s where it gets tricky, right?  She’s too hot for the solo daytime talk crowd, but she lacks the height and blondness of a sexy co-host on a morning show (in our society, whatever we may think about our level of enlightenment, blond still seems to mean sexy to us).

So Rachael’s got to be the other hot chick if she’s going to be actually hot.  That means she’s got to have what we can call the “Laney Boggs Effect.”  Laney Boggs is Rachael Leigh Cook’s character in the 1999 romantic comedy She’s All That.  Boggs is this crunchy artist girl with glasses and overalls who spends most of her free time in the basement painting Hollywood’s idea of edgy artwork (which really means sentimental paintings of the boy she likes and maybe her quirky pool-cleaner father).  Now she’s never actually ugly (that’d be too much for American audiences to bear), in fact she’s actually rather doable.  But in the court of Hollywood high school politics she’s not as hot as the blond cheerleaders.  Of course we find out by movie’s end that when Laney puts on contact lenses and swaps out her over-alls for a dress — she is ridiculously hot!  Yes, the power of the Laney Boggs Effect is that it takes it subject from merely doable to empirically hot.

So does Ray fit the profile requirements for a Laney Boggs? No glasses, to be sure, but she is a bit crunchy and she like to spend her free time in the kitchen making 20-minute meals that could be construed as edgy artwork. She’s got apron-overalls and she has pet names for her tools/ingredients.  (Honestly, “E.V.O.O.” is almost a deal-breaker.  Its too cute and too particular… but we let it pass because she makes a mean mini-cheeseburger.)  So it seems like all the crucial elements are in place.  She’s DEFINITELY doable… but can she run the conversion?

Convection Oven

Every Laney Boggs needs her Freddie Prinze Jr.  A good-looking love-interest that has somewhat dubious motivations but overcomes them to do right by her in the end.  In the case of Rachael Ray, her Freddie Prinze Jr. is probably Oprah Winfrey.  Oprah who brought her to the ABC-Prom five days a week at 10 am.  For us late-risers, there is nothing better than waking up to the warm embrace of Rachael’s smile.

But its not just that she’s got a great body, an nice smile and can cook up a delicious meal in the time it take to watch the good part of The Daily Show.  Its also the edge that lies there.  You can hear the cigarettes in her voice and can imagine her after the show throwing back straight whiskey’s and smoking her Marlboro’s in her dressing room.  She’s got a tragic, troubled side.  How can you resist?  She lights me up like a convection oven when she’s on the air.  And that’s just her telling a few stories and watching dogs dance with people on daytime television.  Is it even worth it to talk about her 2003 FHM photo shoot?  For those of you on the fence, this may send you over into Rachael country.  I mean, it clear they sort of took it lightly.  There are a couple of photos that, while hot, are also ridiculous.  a woman in lingerie pulling a full-size turkey out of an oven is completely preposterous.  But I have never seen a colander looks sexier than in the hands of sudsy-Rachel Ray lounging on a countertop.  And if I was ever greeted by a woman front-laced two-piece with a pie… I’m not sure if i could prevent myself from collapsing into a shock-coma.

I’m fine with the argument that she’s gross.  I’m happy to hear people say as much.  I think they’re wrong (so incredibly wrong), but I do like

Look.  Look!  She’s hot.  That’s it.  End of story.  Period.  She’s daytime television’s Laney Boggs.  Rachel Ray is all that.  And a side of E.V.O.O

Rachael Ray: Bland Ambition

MOLLY SCHOEMANN: I’m not here to argue that Rachael Ray is unattractive. As a fellow petite brunette with selective appeal, we do not tend to hate on each other’s appearances—it isn’t seemly. In fact, I’ll even give her credit for a recently resurfaced series of tongue-in-cheek sexy photos she posed in for FHM magazine. Those pictures showed a side of bland, cheerful Rachael Ray that seems to have all but disappeared—and that’s where my real problem with her lies. In her avid desire to be all things to all cooks, Rachael Ray has managed instead to become a toothless shadow of a talking head chef. Her efforts at becoming more and more universally appealing have left her as flavorless as a bowl of plain oatmeal. She’s doused the fire, and replaced passion with perk. It’s like substituting skim milk for whole. Paula Deen would never approve.

You have to be a power-hungry, competitive bastard to host a cooking program, and each TV food personality has his or her own eccentricities and flaws. Where does Rachael Ray fit in? She lacks the controlling, brittle ice-princess qualities that make Martha Stewart and Sandra Lee so chillingly hypnotic. She’s not shouty like Emeril, or down-homey like Paula Deen. She lacks the exotic flair of Giada, and the twitchy nerdiness of Alton brown. She’s just good old Rachael Ray, and she’ll teach you how to make the kinds of quick, easy, entrees that are so generic, you’ll forget what you’ve eaten by the time you’ve loaded the dishwasher. Beef and lettuce tacos! Pork chops with mustard glaze! Why tune in at all? Call me a snob, but I watch cooking shows and read cookbooks to inspire me with recipes that offer ingenuity, new techniques, and flavor and texture combinations I may not have considered before. Potatoes taste good with onions, Rachael Ray? And you should add garlic? It’s like a culinary coloring book. Thanks, but no thanks.

All right, so maybe Rachael Ray doesn’t completely lack a personality— but the assortment of quirks she does display makes me wish she did. She says things like, “Yum-o!” and “Delish!”, and, as Akie points out, refers to Olive Oil as “EVOO”. Those are not words, Rachael. They are a verbal assault. When you say those catchphrases, it is the vocal equivalent of shoving a piece of rock candy up my nose until my eyes water and I can taste it in the back of my throat. Not pleasant.

Then there’s her devotion to animals, which, as honorable as it is, she still manages to make cloying and lucrative; selling expensive dog food under the brand name, ‘Nutrish’ (!!!), because she has a finger in every pie and wants to corner every market and every mouth. I don’t feed my dog her overpriced dog food—but when we visited relatives last summer, they bought it for him, and he absolutely loved it. Rachael Ray’s crimes now include giving my poor, sad dog a brief, tantalizing taste of the kind of life I can never provide for him.

Not content with merely peddling overpriced dog food, Rachael Ray’s website goes on to suggest recipes that I can cook for my dog. He eats rope, and his favorite snack is licking off my hand lotion. Cooking for him does not strike me as the best use of my time. Best of all, I just realized that the dishes that Rachael Ray recommends making for dogs, are ones that I already make. For me.

That’s right Rachael Ray. Your “Beggin’ Egg & Cheese Fried Rice” recipe? I’ve eaten it on many a lazy Sunday morning, except I substitute scallions for the parsley and add a little sriracha. I have to say, that kind of hurts.

Anyway, my point is: Rachael Ray’s tiresomely perky shtick has worn thin. If she doesn’t work on her edge, she’s well on the path to blanding herself into oblivion. But on the bright side, I must admit, she’s got some great dog food recipes. Delish!

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