Monday, November 16, 2009

Me and Rachael…Kind Of!

Three weeks ago, I took my NJ daughter to NYC to be part of the Rachael Ray show audience. I had V.I.P. tickets, knowing that she decides the day “of” whether or not to meet and greet. But I had a chance, however small it may have been. We had so much fun! I loved watching and listening to Rachael, a vivacious lover of food and people, inspire women to get back into the kitchen for some great 30 Minute Meals!

Earlier that week, a huge Rachael Ray devotee and new mom told me that Rachael taught her to cook. I know this woman’s mom is a good cook, so I wondered why she learned from Rachael Ray rather than at home as a girl. I found out that, after teaching all day, her mom really didn’t have the extra time and energy to teach her kids to cook and, instead, served her large family an easy meal from the crock pot. Sound familiar? I can see why Rachael is so successful in luring women back into recipes and the delights of bringing people together with good food!

“Our” Rachael Ray show will air on Black Friday, when you’ll hear financial guru Bill Rancic's tips on saving money with online holiday shopping. (Hilary Swank was the scheduled guest but had to postpone, so we learned about money matters instead.) I was as fascinated with Bill’s initial sit-down with Rachael as I was with his spending tips. A friendly, spontaneous, brilliant guy, he walked in, they greeted each other and then got right into the holiday shopping piece, cameras on! Within two minutes, someone approached Bill, who was looking crisp and spiffy in his lightly starched white shirt, and he hopped up and left the stage. Rachael indicated to us that she was as clueless as we were as to what just happened. Moments later, he came right back with a blue blazer on, sat down, and they began the interview again. It turns out that white on camera doesn’t work as well without contrast. What was funny was the size of the new, “better” jacket. I’d say the sleeves were about four inches too short, so Bill didn’t move much, being in a straight jacket! But the show must go on and he was loaded with good information. Darling guy!

Then we were treated to some incredible makeovers. A team of makeover artists had chosen three couples from applicants who wanted to look like famous couples, for example, David and Victoria Beckham. The couples were shown before their makeovers, next to pictures of the famous couples they wanted to emulate. In each case, the couple then walked on stage and we all gasped. The artists literally made the couples look like their dreams—and the team did this in only a couple of hours! Even Rachael was wide-eyed and open mouthed over this feat. What a difference cut, color and fashion can make!

The audience that day was treated to parts of several shows, showing off Rachael’s flexibility in going from paring potatoes or stirring Arborio rice with animated patter (“always throw in some freshly grated nutmeg with green veggies to enhance their flavor”) to interviewing her guests or chatting with her audience. The woman has the energy of a hummingbird! Our four hours, start to finish, included a waiting time with a good comedian between segments to keep us smiling. But it was always intense interviewing, cooking, wardrobe changing or commentary time for Rachael.

In the audience, I happened to sit next to the PR woman for Rachael’s hairdresser. She confided that Rachael had gotten her hair done prior to the morning’s taping, so it was no wonder she was having a fabulous hair day! But where does she get the energy to record an entire show in the AM and then work on stage with us watching all afternoon? If only she could bottle that like her bottled EVOO; I’d be first in line!

I knew ten minutes into the session that there would be no “meet and greet,” but it was so worth it to come close! I left with a huge appreciation for Rachael’s professionalism, her sincere interest in her guests and her passion for convincing us that cooking is a privilege -- not a big deal, but with big rewards. She had to be exhausted going through all those paces. Experiencing her in person motivated me, even though I was already a cook through and through. Now I’m inspired to enjoy the process and the outcome with a little more gusto. That energy can be applied not only to the kitchen but to working on a radio interview or a keynote, with enthusiasm and joy, even when I’m fading fast! Galatians 6:9 reminds us, “Do not grow weary in well-doing!” This holiday season I’ll have plenty of opportunity to do that…and hopefully I’ll face my audience with a smile, knowing I’m serving the Lord as well as my guests, listeners, and readers! And if you catch me fading…whip out one of those blue blazers, will ya? I know how that works, too!

By the way, after an entire afternoon of watching and sniffing the culinary delights from Rachael’s kitchen, you’ll want to know what we got to eat in the studio for our snack and where I took my daughter to eat in NYC afterwards. Remember…we were in New York City, just “us girls” with no kids – the sky was the limit, but you’ll never guess where we landed! Stay tuned…

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