Conducting an interview Friday April 12 with television celebrity Rachael Ray (right) is Warrensburg High School student Allison ‘Allie’ Squires (left), on assignment for the Adirondack Journal. Rachael Ray was in town for her annual hometown show which raises money for the Lake George Scholarship Association. Squires is considered among the top Language Arts students at WCS.
“I feel like Santa at the mall!” international celebrity Rachael Ray exclaimed midway during an interview with area media representatives prior to her annual scholarship benefit show Saturday Aug. 12 at her alma mater, Lake George High School.
The room broke into laughter.
In a display of cheerfulness, charm and charisma, Rachael Ray shared banter, news and laughter with press, television and radio reporters for more than a half-hour.
Seeming genuinely pleased to be in her hometown, the internationally renowned television star shared her thoughts and plans for a very busy 2013.
Rachael spoke passionately about her work with the First Lady Michelle Obama's program for kids “Let's Move” and her fight against childhood obesity with the Children's Initiative. Her other charities include her Nutrish dog food line — set to expand to cat food this year — in which all net proceeds go to animal rescue.
Also, Rachael has donated $500,000 to the ASPCA to construct a shelter for animals victimized by Hurricane Sandy. The 20,000-square-feet shelter opened in September.
Asked about her favorite destinations during her many visits to her home in Lake Luzerne, Rachael grinned.
“The Harvest is always my first stop,” she said. "I've been going there for the same pizza since I was 12, and I still get the same pizza — only now I get to sit at the bar and feel like a big kid!"
She continued that her other favorite local food-related destinations include the Lake George Bakery, Montcalm Restaurant and Ridge Terrace.
“But I like to cook at home when I'm home," she laughed. “Maybe I'll even get my mom to cook for me!”
Rachael said that despite her fame and influence stemming from her Manhattan-based television show, she is happiest here in the Adirondacks.
“It's home and nothing feels better!” she said. “My favorite part is coming along Route 9 past the Great Escape and catching my first glimpse of those mountains.”
Rachael Ray said Aug. 12 that although she was staying for a week — her version of spring break — she has the food schedule for her mini-vacation planned to a “T,” including dinners like spinach lasagna and chicken fries.
“I'm always comfortable cooking — They don't make me, I like it,” she said. "I love going out and meeting new people, but what I've learned is that people are just people.”
She said that her shows, whether broadcast nationally or held in Lake George, represent more than just cooking instructions.
“A cut of fish or a chicken breast is just that: a cut of fish or a chicken breast,” she said. “It's really about the storytelling. I like to make meals that people feel they could easily make themselves at home.”
While Rachael Ray’s shows have featured such stars as President Bill Clinton, Julie Andrews, Clay Aiken, and Michael J. Fox, she’s also hosted ordinary people — welcoming them with similar cheerfulness, attention and charm.
“Our goal is to make famous people forget that their famous and make viewers feel like they're part of the program,” she said. Rachael added that she continues to be inspired by her mother, late grandfather, and such chefs as Julia Child and actress Gwyneth Paltrow.
Along with the release of her new book, “My Year In Meals,” Rachael said she plans to continue writing her popular line of cookbooks, including two with her husband John Cusimano. She said she also plans to continue — “Knock on wood!” she jokes — with the seventh season of her daily talk/cooking show.
She’ll also be concentrating on the second season of “Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off,” a Food Network series with Rachael Ray and fellow television chef Guy Fieri mentoring two teams of celebrities, she said.
“It’s my most intense project yet," she said.