Rachael Ray Almost Didn't Have A Cooking Show. Here's Why

Rachael Ray is a household name, but those 30 Minute Meals almost didn't happen. Ray grew up with a love of food passed down from her grandfather (via Insider). She developed a diverse palate at a young age, proven by a memory she has of bringing a sardine sandwich with her on her first day of school. Fortunately for viewers, this budding foodie would go on to work in the food and beverage industry starting from the bottom up, before landing her celebrity status that we know today.

Says Ray in her book, Rachael Ray 50: Memories and Meals from a Sweet and Savory Life – A Cookbook and shared by Insider, "I think that everybody should have to be a dishwasher. I think that everybody should learn how to take an order and serve people, you know?"

As her food career progressed, Ray opened Agata & Valentina specialty food market in New York (via Biography). While working at this shop, she created her now-famous 30-minute meals as cooking classes, which were eventually discovered by Food Network. But getting noticed by the network didn't convince her to sign up right away. The young cook told the execs, "I serve people. I'm the service person. I wait on people that are on TV. I'm not on TV. And, you know, that's what I told Food Network," (via NPR).

Rachael Ray's television career was technically an accident

Perhaps it should have been expected that Ray's warmth and humble kitchen style would gather attention. Her natural presence always seems so easygoing on TV. The food celeb jokes, "Well, you can't put a cook next to a stove and not expect that two things are gonna happen. Cooking and talking," (via NPR). But for Ray, the last thing she ever thought she'd be was a television personality. Her first love — and last — was always the food.

"The television thing is a very weird happening for me, and certainly not anything I planned for. I don't know that I thought I wasn't worthy of it. I just thought, well, that's not me. That's for other people. You know, that's just not me," Ray shares with interviewers. But ignoring Ray's protests, the network finally prevailed. Ray recalls, "...they said I was wrong, and come on back and sit down. So I did."

As an audience, we are so glad that she stuck around. Congratulations on 52 and fabulous, Rachael Ray!