I Worked on the Rachael Ray Show for 16 Years—These Were My Favorite Recipes (2024)

A career in television is sparkly. It's the kind of job that people know about before you walk into a room. "Oh yea, I've heard your name before, you're the girl who works for Rachael Ray! What's she like?!" preceded me for the better part of the last 16 years.

Yep, that's me, Jeanette, often referred to as Rach's resident toast maker (she always burned the bread, so I could often be seen on the show running through her kitchen delivering her perfectly toasted buns) or the watermelon queen (every summer for the better part of 10 years or so, I carved a watermelon into a fun creature on the show).

Rachael Ray Shares Her Favorite Pantry Dinner, and You'll Want to Make It on Repeat

And people always asked, "What is Rachael like?" She is freaking amazing. Generous, prolific, smart, sharp, creative, inspiring, supportive. I've always said she's on this earth doing exactly what she was meant to be doing; sharing her talents, tips, palpable smiles and delicious food with the masses—and I was lucky enough to have a daily front-row seat to it.

I Worked on the Rachael Ray Show for 16 Years—These Were My Favorite Recipes (1)

I started with the show as an intern in 2007, as a biology major who lived in a Manhattan apartment across the street from the old studio. (Spoiler alert, this biologist never made it to grad school.) A classmate was in the final weeks of her internship and encouraged me to apply, given my love for all things food and fast-paced fun. I got the gig and never looked back.

I did a lot of different jobs in my tenure there. I started as an intern and left 16 years later an Emmy-award-winning producer. From procuring lint from dryers across the city's laundromats for a segment about laundry, to pulling together recipes on the fly in the walk-in fridge with Chef Jacques Pépin, to calming the nerves of both unknown and very well-known guests who were about to cook their recipes standing next to the Rachael Ray, to being a guest on the show with my own recipes … I wore a lot of hats.

That was the best part of the job; every day was different. I met incredible guests and worked with some of my best friends who, as cliché as it sounds, have become members of my family. And, together, we changed the way people viewed food and made some fantastic television.

If I Learned One Thing from Watching Rachael Ray, It's Always Have a Scraps Bowl—and Hers Is the Best

Although I never made it to grad school, I consider myself to have a master's degree from the school of RR. Turns out working alongside Culinary Institute of America-trained chefs, an über-talented host and world-renowned chefs on the daily both on set and in the prep kitchen is the quickest and best way to learn how to cook, make food look pretty and eat well too.

As you can imagine, we ate a lot (like … a lot, a lot) of great food. From family-meal lunches to leftovers behind the scenes, we got to experience it all. Here are my favorite seven recipes that I ate while working on the show. All of these are in my repertoire, as are many others, but, sometimes you have to pick your favorite child (or in this case, children), right?!

1. Rach's Buffalo Chicken Chili

Had to start with the greatest of all time, Rach's Buffalo Chicken Chili. I think this recipe broke our website a number of times. Anything we aired with "Buffalo" in the title always did. (We once did an entire Thanksgiving meal that was Buffalo- and ranch-inspired, but that's a story for another day.) This one makes my list because it, in my opinion, is the epitome of a recipe that was our bread and butter; it's simple, it's delicious, it's quick and it's BUFFALO. I don't particularly care about football, but I religiously make this on Sundays in the fall. I always double- or triple-batch it because it's a great dish to have in the freezer for another night when you can't figure out what to cook.

2. Curtis Stone's Orange Bostock

One of the best parts of the job was getting to work with anyone who came by to cook. Chef Curtis Stone was such a dear friend to the show and our team. Every single recipe he presented hit the mark. As he spent seasons being a co-host, we luckily got to see quite a lot of him. Curtis made this recipe for a Mother's Day episode. I had never heard of bostock before; I would say it's somewhere in the middle of an almond croissant and French toast. Whatever you want to call it, it's delicious and perfect for hosting brunch.

3. Rach's Chipotle Sweet Potato & Chorizo Quesadillas

This recipe was just a normal "what's for dinner tonight" as we called them, but something about the combination of chipotle-lime sweet potatoes and chorizo all mashed together into a quesadilla makes this recipe a 10. I particularly remember this being made on one of those very busy show days (we used to film three full episodes in one day), and I hadn't eaten for hours. One of my teammates saved me a piece, and I've been making them on steady rotation ever since.

4. Rach's Pretzel-Crusted Chicken

Another Rach recipe that is in the greatest-of-all-time category. I'm not sure why no one thought about coating chicken tenders in crushed-up pretzels before, but I'm glad she did. I can vividly remember her teaching Jessica Simpson how to whisk cheese into the dipping sauce in a figure 8. For some reason I make it every New Year's Eve, I don't know why, but I don't question it. It works for any occasion, really.

5. Scott Conant's Cranberry Campari Compote

Bookmark this one for Thanksgiving. Scotty was a good friend of the show (my former boss Emily went to culinary school with him, so we all adopted the nickname Scotty). The team was always buzzing when the chef and Chopped judge came around. This compote is a blend of two of my favorite things, Thanksgiving and a negroni. It's a flawless recipe, and your holiday guests will buzz for it too.

6. Rach's Sticky Chicken Tray Bake

Part of our job was to know what was going on with food trends. Did I mention we were putting food in a waffle maker decades before all the cool kids were doing it on TikTok? Tray bakes came on the scene, and now I'm wondering how we ever lived without them. Much like the term "Buffalo," tray bakes would also rate very well for us. This tray bake is the one I make most at home. Rach's sticky chicken glaze is a recipe from a few years ago, but recently she revamped it to be a tray bake and it's as simple as it is delicious.

7. Katie Lee Biegel's Logan County Hamburgers

Rach literally wrote The Book of Burger, so a burger had to make the list. In my years eating cheeseburgers between segments, there were many highlights. But I had to get this particular burger on my list because it's not your classic burger—it's a patty melt. There were a lot of firsts for me during my time at the show, and this segment was my very first patty melt! Katie is the best—down to earth, kind and always quick with a great kitchen tip. The kinda gal who swings by and knocks your socks off with a patty melt. She even once won Rachael's Burger Bash event at the NYC Wine and Food Festival with this exact recipe.

The Rachael Ray Show filmed its last episode in March. The crazy part about spending almost 16 years of your life at one job is that a lot happens. My team and I have seen each other through some of the worst days and some of the best days of our lives. In that time, I moved in with my boyfriend, got engaged to the boyfriend, got married and had two beautiful children. I still don't quite understand what my life will look like without the Rachael Ray Show as my home base. The friendships will be there forever. And when I'm missing my time there, I'm grateful to forever have the smells, flavors and tastes of the place that will always feel like home.

I Worked on the Rachael Ray Show for 16 Years—These Were My Favorite Recipes (2024)
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