Rachael Ray has worked in the kitchen for her whole life, starting as a dishwasher in her mother's restaurant.

Rachael Ray has worked in the kitchen for her whole life, starting as a dishwasher in her mother's restaurant.

Kojo For Kids welcomes Rachael Ray to the show on Monday, July 27 at 12:30 p.m. Listen live by streaming the show on this page or by tuning in to 88.5 FM in the Washington, D.C. region. Kids can call in with questions at 800-433-8850.

Rachael Ray is a best-selling cookbook author, an Emmy award winning television personality, America’s favorite self-taught cook and this week’s guest on Kojo For Kids!

She’s coached some of the worst cooks in America to culinary perfection, perfected the art of the 30-minute meal
and helped to craft delicious dishes for cats and dogs everywhere.

Now, she’s helping kids stuck at home how to get creative in the kitchen with Rachael Ray’s Yum-o! Summer Camp

Are you a budding chef? Listen and call in with your cooking questions, and let us know about your own culinary creations!

This show is part of the “Kojo For Kids” series, a Kojo Nnamdi Show segment featuring guests of special interest to young listeners. Though Kojo has been on WAMU 88.5 for 20 years, this is the first time he has had the opportunity to reach out to an audience of kids, most of whom until recently had been in school during our live broadcast. We’re excited to hear from our youngest listeners! Join us!

Produced by Kayla Hewitt


  • Rachael Ray Cookbook author and television personality


  • 12:32:02

    KOJO NNAMDIWelcome back. She's the bestselling author of over 20 cookbooks and Emmy Award-winning television personality and one of America's favorite self-taught cooks. Now, with the help of her celebrity chef friends, she's starting Rachael Ray's Yum-o! Cooking Camp to teach all the kids stuck at home this summer how to get their hands dirty in the kitchen. Adults, you are welcome to listen, but because today's show is part of the Kojo For Kids series, we're taking kids' calls only. Rachael Ray, welcome to the program.

  • 12:32:31

    RACHAEL RAYThank you so much for having me. What a thrill. Really, what a thrill. So exciting.

  • 12:32:35

    NNAMDIThank you for joining us. Tell...

  • 12:32:36

    RAYSo exciting.

  • 12:32:38

    NNAMDI...tell me a little bit about you as a kid. Where did you grow up, and what was your childhood like?

  • 12:32:43

    RAYYou know, the most important thing in my childhood, I think for me, is that when I was a little girl, my grandpa, Emanuele was his name. He was born in Sicily, in Italy. My grandpa lived with us and my mom worked in restaurants. But my grandpa stayed at home and took care of me when I was little. First, we lived in Cape Code in Massachusetts, and then I moved to Upstate New York.

  • 12:33:10

    RAYBut more importantly than where the house was, it was who was in the house. The most important thing in my young life was the ability to read. Learning how to read was the first big step. When you learn how to read, the entire world opens up for you. And my grandfather came here when he was a little boy and taught himself how to read in English. And he was very proud to teach me how to read. And that was the first big thing.

  • 12:33:40

    RAYThe next big thing that happened when I was a little girl is that I was in the kitchen with my grandfather and my mother. And my mother was one of 10 children, the very first born of the 10 children. So, it was her job to be with grandpa and his helper, his number one helper. So, she would help in the garden and in the kitchen. And that prepared her for a life in working in restaurants. So, I'm not really self-taught. I'm grandpa- and momma-taught. (laugh) I went to the culinary school of my family.

  • 12:34:11

    RAYBut when you learn how to cook, how to prepare food for yourself and others, it is a wonderful ability, because it gives you self-esteem. It teaches you about skills like math and important things like patience. But it also teaches you the beauty of sharing and providing for yourself and for others. Like, that is the next stepping stone in the story of my whole life. The first one being the ability to read, the second being the ability to cook.

  • 12:34:47

    RAYThen I think we get into the really -- then you can go anywhere, right. Then you can go into music and art and learning to speak many languages. But being able to read opens up the whole world for you. And being able to cook means you can always provide for yourself. Whether you're rich or poor or have a lot of money, at least you know you'll be safe and can eat some food that day.

  • 12:35:12

    RAYAnd it's so exciting to me to work with children, because I don't have children of my own. This is how I reach out, through our brand and the work that we do. We raise money and we share that money with scholarship programs and helping kids, that don't have as much to eat as other little kids, get more food. This is yet another way to do that. Just communicating and cooking together and getting all kids, future scientists and doctors, future great chefs, future artists and sculptors. Everybody should learn how to do this fun thing, because it improves the rest of your life.

  • 12:35:51

    RAYIt is, without question -- my destiny was what has become the course of my first 52 years, but it is without question -- without question, I think, one of the most important skills. Humility, love, the discipline of reading and the discipline of learning how to cook and provide for yourself. It's a really important thing, and it gives children so much back.

  • 12:36:19

    NNAMDIRachael Ray, later this week, you're launching a virtual cooking summer camp for kids everywhere. Tell us about this cooking camp, and how can kids at home sign up?

  • 12:36:28

    RAYYou go to RR, my initials, Rachael Ray, RRcookingcamp.com. And we have over 61,000, as of this morning -- 61,000 kids and their families from all over that are going to join. And for 16 classes every day at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, we are going to have a class together where you can download the recipe, so you can be prepared with your ingredients. And you can literally cook along, watch along or just enjoy it and cook it later with your family at a time that's better for you.

  • 12:37:09

    RAYBut so many of my friends are joining us, Bobby Flay, oh, my gosh, Anne Burrell, Giada De Laurentiis. I mean, amazing, amazing chefs, Andrew Zimmern. So many, Duff -- if you love to bake, Duff Goldman, Cake Boss Buddy Valastro, Alex Guarnaschelli. So many of my chef friends...

  • 12:37:33

    NNAMDI(overlapping) And our very own Carla Hall.

  • 12:37:36

    RAYOh, Carla, I -- talk about someone who can put a fire under anyone at any age. What a beauty, inside and out, she is. My darling Carla. She does the next to the last class. She's on -- I'm teaching on the 30th, and I'm teaching also on August 14th, and Carla is on August 13th, the day before me, and she hasn't even decided. She's so excited she can't decide what she's cooking yet. We don't even know what she's cooking yet. (laugh)

  • 12:38:05

    RAYAnd Bobby's cooking the day right after me. He's cooking on the 31st. He's making real macaroni and cheese. And in my first class, I'm making barbecue chicken pizza, but there's no crust. The chicken is the crust. We're making a chicken paillard. We're going to teach kids how to make a chicken paillard. And on top, homemade barbecue sauce and a little cheese. And the chicken itself is the pizza.

  • 12:38:31

    RAYSo, we're going to learn lots of important skills. We're going to learn about great nutrition and eating colors and knife skills and have a great conversation with all these different chefs and all their different specialties, just challenging kids and their families. You don't have to be a kid to join our cooking camp, of course. You can just tune in for fun and cook along. All of the food sounds great to me.

  • 12:38:56

    NNAMDIHere is six-year-old Aleco in McLean, Virginia. Aleco, you're on the air...

  • 12:39:01


  • 12:39:02

    NNAMDI...Aleco, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:39:07

    ALECOMy name is Aleco and...

  • 12:39:09


  • 12:39:11

    ALECO...my question is, why are veggies so good for you?

  • 12:39:20

    RAYWell, I am so happy that you asked me that. You know, when my mom -- she was one of 10 kids, like I said. When my mom was little, my grandpa, he didn't have a lot of money. He had to grow everything that they could eat. And those kids only grew up with vegetables. So, over the years, when people could buy more and more fun stuff in the grocery store, some of it was beautiful fresh fruits and vegetables, and some of it was really tasty stuff in packages. Along the way, the vegetables became a little less popular.

  • 12:39:56

    RAYBut when my mom was a little girl, she used to run home and try and beat all of her brothers and sisters home so she could run downstairs and take -- sneak and take, literally steal extra vegetables and fruits from her brothers and sisters and eat them out of the jars that my grandpa would can for the winter.

  • 12:40:15

    RAYVegetables were everything when my mom was a little girl. Now, they're becoming really cool again, which I love, because so many families have different diets. Some kids in families now eat vegan, or all plants, all plants, all veggies and maybe some fruits mixed in, too, and lots of nuts and natural fats. Some families are vegetarian, some families are pescatarian. That means they eat fish and a lot of plants.

  • 12:40:45

    RAYSo, because everybody's eating all these different ways and all these different diets, it's super-exciting, because we can all share what we love together. And you know what else is great, is there's so many meats now that aren't really meat. You can have plants that taste like beef or chicken. It's really exciting, so we can use plants in new ways. And eating vegetables gives us great nutrition.

  • 12:41:16

    RAYAnd when I was little -- and it's true today, and I say it all the time -- I was always taught the more different colors you can put into your diet -- if you eat a whole rainbow of colors, you don't even need to take vitamins, because they're all in the plants that you're eating. So, I think it's important to try everything, not one time, but six times. If you try a red pepper six times, and you still say, I don't know that I really like red peppers, okay, I'm going to believe you.

  • 12:41:50

    RAYOkay. But I think everybody should try everything one more than a handful of times. So that's six, right? So, if we try a different color every time we eat a vegetable, chances are we can learn how to eat that vegetable by adding some spices or something like grated cheese or if you like the taste of sesame or ginger or garlic. Just by changing the flavors around the vegetable, you can really come to like that vegetable.

  • 12:42:21

    NNAMDIAleco, does that answer your question?

  • 12:42:25


  • 12:42:26

    NNAMDIThank you very much for your call. A little bit more about this summer camp. We should remind our kids and listeners that it's free. It's not only an opportunity for kids to learn a new skill, Rachael Ray, it also benefits young people through charitable donations. Tell us about that.

  • 12:42:41

    RAYWell, every class is free. I can't stress that enough. It's a 16-part live, virtual cooking camp and it is free. Many people choose to make a donation that's right for them and their family. And we have wonderful sponsors who are helping us deliver a lot of the groceries to people, Barilla, the pasta company, lots of people, potsandpans.com, Vlasic, Readi Whip, Birds Eye. I hope I'm not forgetting -- there's a lot of folks that are being wonderful sponsors to us.

  • 12:43:15

    RAYNot that they're just providing food or saying, we want this content or that. They're just supporting this. And right now, as I said, we have over 60,000 participants, and we have over $300,000 we've raised already. And that is going to benefit Boys and Girl Clubs. And it's also going to benefit a brand-new scholarship program that we've put together. So, Boys and Girls Clubs of America and our Yum-o!, that's what we call our organization, our scholarship fund.

  • 12:43:48

    RAYWe're starting a brand new fund at Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management as part of FIU, Florida International University. And we're helping kids further their education in food-related fields, which we've done since day one of our brand.

  • 12:44:04

    RAYDuring COVID, my husband and I have given, personally, $4 million to animals and to humans, of course, and to kids. And we wanted to keep figuring out ways to raise and to target through partners and programs that we can monitor, so we can see where the money's going and how it's benefitting our larger community in this country.

  • 12:44:30

    RAYThat's what this was really about. How can we continue to do exciting stuff and get kids involved in their own future, and in learning a skill that's so important to the rest of their lives, and to raise money for other kids at the very same time they're doing that? So, we're doing a community good service, and we're doing something for ourselves. We're building our own skillset for life.

  • 12:44:55

    NNAMDIHere is seven-year-old Lena in Alexandria. Lena or Lina. Is it Lena or Lina? Lena, you're on the...

  • 12:45:03


  • 12:45:04

    NNAMDIHi, Lina.

  • 12:45:04

    RAYHi, Lina.

  • 12:45:06

    NNAMDIYou're on the air, Lina. Go ahead with your question.

  • 12:45:09

    LINAOkay. My name is Lina, and I have a question that's, how does candy give you cavities?

  • 12:45:18

    NNAMDIOh, oh, we're calling on dentist Rachael Ray now. (laugh)

  • 12:45:24

    RAYWell, that is a very good, very smart question. And, in nature, in certain, not only fruits, but even vegetables, there are natural sugars. And we can brush our teeth every day, and we're getting a little bit of sugar, but maybe not too much concentrated sugar. Sometimes when we eat too much candy or processed sugar -- meaning we put way more sugar in something than nature already put there -- so we add extra sugar to flour or to fruits. And we press it and crush it and mush it together and we make delicious, delicious things.

  • 12:46:10

    RAYBut if we eat too many of those things that are made with the processed sugars, then we put maybe too much sugar on our teeth, and it starts to eat at our enamel, which is the outer coating of our teeth. And we have to keep that a whole big, long time. After your baby teeth go away and you get your grownup teeth, boy there's no going back. (laugh) You got to take care of it.

  • 12:46:33

    RAYSo, every time we have some candy or a special treat, we have to remember to brush our teeth to take care of them. And it's much better to have more of the natural sugars and save the concentrated sugars like candy and cakes and cupcakes and all those extra delicious treats. You want to keep them special. We want those to be for, oh, boy, that's a super-special treat. So, if you have something every day, yawn, it gets pretty boring. Just like we can't read the same book every single night, no matter how much we love it. We know what's going to happen. So, maybe if we have some candy or special sugary treats, maybe the next few days, we try and eat natural sugars, so we can compare them.

  • 12:47:22

    RAYAnd even when you eat a natural sugar, like a banana or a piece of fruit, it's a lovely experiment to try one that's super-ripe and one that's not ripe enough yet. Because if you eat a banana that's still a little bit green, you'll be, like, I don't even know if that tastes like a banana. And then if you try a banana that has some spots on it and it's getting a little soft, you're going to be like, whoa, I can't even believe both of these are bananas. This one is so sugary and it's so sweet, it's crazy. It's crazy. So, you can even taste the difference on how sugar develops naturally in fruits and vegetables if you taste them at different ripenesses.

  • 12:48:08

    NNAMDILina, does that answer your question?

  • 12:48:11


  • 12:48:12

    NNAMDIThank you so much for your call. You, too, can...

  • 12:48:13

    RAYWonderful. Thank you for calling. What wonderful calls.

  • 12:48:17

    NNAMDIYou were inspired to start a nonprofit for kids by the name of Yum-o! Can you tell us about it, and what does Yum-o! mean?

  • 12:48:27

    RAYYes. When I started on Food Network 20 years ago, my mom, when she compliments you if she thinks something's delicious -- my mom worked in restaurants for 60 years, Sicilian-American. And my mom, if she would taste something and really loved it, she'd say, oh my God, not capital G-o-d, but more like g-a-w-d, like oh, my gawd. Right. And she would also say, yum, oh my gawd. And then the most highest compliment you could get was she'd throw the spoon or the fork down and say, well, that's disgusting, (laugh) and she would mean the opposite. (laugh)

  • 12:49:10

    RAYSo, when I started on Food Network, they asked me to end my show by tasting some of the food, which I could barely -- more often than not, if I would take a bite, the food was still so hot, I couldn't taste anything because it was burning the inside of my mouth off. (laugh) Because they really were 30-minute meals and it really was my food and I was really cooking everything, (laugh) and it was still so hot, I couldn’t taste anything.

  • 12:49:38

    RAYBut I would say, oh, my gawd like my momma would, like meaning, oh, that's good, but I was really just trying to suck air in and cool down my mouth. But some folks wrote in and they said, please don't say “God” when you're commenting on your food because it upsets us. They thought I was taking the Lord's name, and it really wasn't meant like that. It was meant like, you know, my mom would say, which was more like a g-a-w-d. (laugh)

  • 12:50:11

    RAYAnd so I had to stop saying that, so I just started saying yum. And instead of oh, my gawd, I would stop with oh. Yum-oh. And then I would stop myself and describe the flavor. So, over the years as I wrote cookbooks and things, I would go on book tours and lots of families would come out together. And all of the children would run up to me, and they would not say Rachael Ray. They would call me as if it was part of my name, Rachael Ray Yum-o. Rachael Ray Yum-o, or just Rachael Yum-o. So, it became kind of synonymous for children with me. I have a funny voice, and I was kind of an animated person on Food Network. And I would wave my arms around a lot and I'd say yum-oh and stop there. So, they made it part of my name.

  • 12:51:01

    RAYSo, when we started a brand and I started drawing pots and pans on paper and designing things for the kitchen, I wanted to use it as a vehicle for philanthropy to pay forward to the next generation and feed hungry kids and start scholarship funds and take care of, you know, paying it forward to the next generation. But I wanted to do it in products instead of just asking for people for donations. So, when we looked for a name, because it does so many different things, we didn't know what to call it. So, I said, well, just call it what children call me, yum-oh. (laugh)

  • 12:51:37

    NNAMDI(laugh) Exactly right. Makes sense. Here is nine-year-old Ryder in Washington, D.C. Ryder, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 12:51:45

    RAYHi, Ryder.

  • 12:51:46


  • 12:51:48

    NNAMDIGo ahead, Ryder.

  • 12:51:50

    RYDERMy question is, why do you need to put salt in cookies to make them sweeter? Like, why do you put something that's salty in something that's sweet?

  • 12:52:04

    RAYWhat a great question. We are getting such amazing questions from young cooks today. I'm so proud and happy. And I tell families all the time, if you want to learn more about food, talk to your kids. They're not the picky eaters. You're the picky eater. Kids are creative in the kitchen. Great question, Ryder.

  • 12:52:22

    RAYIn food, in all of cooking, it's about balance. Just like when you pick your leg up in the back, it's easier if you put your arm out in the front to bend sideways. You have to have balance in all things. So, when we put something sweet into a recipe, it helps to have balance of its opposite. The opposite of sweet is salty or bitter. We can also look at balances with acid. When we add lemon juice or vinegar to something that's very sweet, it can also provide balance.

  • 12:53:07

    RAYAnd when we balance a recipe for every part of our palate, all the different places on your tongue that taste all the different things, they even now have a word for that...

  • 12:53:18

    NNAMDIOnly have about 30 seconds left but go ahead, please.

  • 12:53:21

    RAYYeah, it's called umami. It's touching everyplace on your tongue. So, that's a really good place to go for in cooking, balancing all of those things all at the same time, the sweet, the sour or the salty and the sweet. And that's what we're trying to do with this class, is show people balance and new ideas and new adventures that they can have in the kitchen.

  • 12:53:42

    NNAMDIThank you so much for your call, Ryder. And Rachael Ray, thank you so much for joining us.

  • 12:53:48

    RAYOh, it was a wonderful, wonderful time and a great honor. Thank you so much for having me.

  • 12:53:53

    NNAMDIThank you. Rachael Ray is a television personality and bestselling cookbook author. Kojo For Kids with Rachael Ray was produced by Kayla Hewitt. And our conversation about Maryland's general election plans was produced by Richard Cunningham.

  • 12:54:06

    NNAMDINow, I'd like to take a moment to bid farewell to Dr. Marie Marcelle Racine, a pillar of Washington's Haitian and academic communities. Professor Racine was born in Haiti, immigrated to the United States and served generations of students at Washington's Federal City College, and then the University of the District of Columbia. A professor of French and linguistics with degrees from Howard University and Georgetown University, Dr. Racine went on to serve associate dean of UDC.

  • 12:54:35

    NNAMDIEven from the upper echelons of the administration, she kept close to her students, particularly those who struggled to attend college and provide for themselves and their families. Former UDC provost Beverly Anderson remembers Dr. Racine commandeering her colleagues after every university dinner and reception She instructed them to help her get the extra food into her car so she could drive it to Haitian families in need.

  • 12:55:00

    NNAMDIShe arranged trips to France for students who would otherwise never have the opportunity to travel. She taught Creole at the Haitian Embassy to help keep the language alive. Marie Racine, who died last week, was also the mother of Carl Racine, the District's attorney general. She often accompanied him to the studio when we interviewed him. I, for one, will miss our conversations about Haiti. Our condolences to the Racine family and the enumerable students in Washingtonian she taught and touched.

  • 12:55:31

    NNAMDIComing up tomorrow, our local economy depends on low-wage workers, but thousands have lost their jobs amid the coronavirus pandemic. And as we enter the fifth month of the crisis, many area food banks are overwhelmed with demand. Now, with the lifeline of an additional $600 a week in federal unemployment coming to an end, how will low-wage workers get by? And who is here to help? Our most recent Kojo in Your Virtual Community, that's at noon tomorrow. Until then, thank you for listening and stay safe. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

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