Whatever Happened To Rachael Ray's $40 A Day?

Whatever happened to Rachael Ray's $40 a Day? Floating across the internet are sections from the now famous blog post written by Anthony Bourdain, in which he expressed his thoughts about various members of the Food Network pantheon. In a section about Giada de Laurentiis, which you can read on reddit, he rails against her show Giada's Weekend Getaways, complaining that it's a rehash of a tired formula seen in The Best Of and $40 a Day: "Send host to empty restaurant. Watch them make crappy food for her. Have her take a few lonely, awkward stabs at the plate, then feign enjoyment with appropriately orgasmic eye-closing and moaning."

While Bourdain's ultimate complaint is that he believes de Laurentiis can actually cook, the same can't be said of the host for $40 a Day: Ray. Even by the time Bourdain had written his wroth, $40 a Day — a show the Food Network's website describes as Ray hitting the road with a budget of $40 — had already ended (as inferred from Bourdain's complaint about de Laurentiis's new show, which aired two years after the final episode of $40 a Day). 

Why the show ended, though, isn't clear. Despite negative IMDb reviews complaining years after the fact about how Ray only managed this budget by tipping below any social acceptable minimum, she remained popular, as seen in a profile by The New York Times; it noted her show, Rachael Ray's Tasty Travels, had the second-highest debut in Food Network's history.

Ray replaced one show with another

The cleanest (though still speculative) explanation for the end of a show that proved broadly popular was that Ray remade $40 a Day into her next offering, Rachael Ray's Tasty Travels. In The New York Times television schedule on the day of the show's debut, they describe the premise as "a city-by-city search for affordable entertainment and inexpensive food." Additionally, the Food Network sells the show on their website as follows: "Travel guru Rachael Ray is back with insider tips and travel secrets that will turn your next vacation into a delicious, affordable feast. "

Indeed, both of these descriptions sound a lot like $40 a Day. Admittedly, Rachael Ray's Tasty Travels lacks the $40 budget, but both shows are about the same thing: eating cheaply in foreign cities to save tourists from overspending, due to a felt need that the only way to treat themselves while traveling is by sacrificing their wallets to the deities of leisure. And, in that view, the $40 is more of a gimmick to curate the various food establishments Ray visits. After all, there was never any drama about Ray potentially spending all her money and having to survive on a packet of skittles for three days. 

One reviewer admits as much on IMDb, calling Rachael Ray's Tasty Travels an improvement on $40 a Day; though Ray still gravitated to the affordable end of the spectrum, she could expand beyond the cheapest possible option.