A small-screen culinary icon has set down her spoonula for the last time on her show.
On May 24, Rachael Ray’s syndicated daytime talk show, “The Rachael Ray Show,” aired its last episode, ending 17 EVOO-filled seasons on television.
“I’ve made the decision that it’s time for me to move on to the next exciting chapter in my broadcast career,” Ray announced on March 3, after the series had seen a significant decline in ratings in recent years. She said she would instead be focusing on her recently announced production arm, Free Food Studios.
To celebrate Ray’s farewell, several folks — including loved ones and megawatt celebrities — popped up over the week to say goodbye and reflect on the times they had with the chef, author and businesswoman.
Ray first bid adieu to her audience, one she’s had since her show premiered on Sept. 18, 2006, with one last recipe. To celebrate her husband John Cusimano, who would appear on the show frequently, she made his “favorite dish on the planet” — pasta carbonara with a seafood-based spin.
Ray said that during her and Cusimano’s courtship, she asked him what she should make him, and the answer was this dish, prepared just as he likes it, with a lot of egg yolks and garlic. For this version of carbonara, Ray added king crab to the recipe and named it “crabonara.” (One more clever portmanteau for the road.)
“Oh that’s a heavy baby, hon,” she joked as she carried a pan with the finished dish over to her husband, prepared in their home kitchen, like many food segments over the years. “There you go, honey. Happy last show of this show.”
Longtime mentor of Ray’s, Oprah Winfrey, had a few words to say about the woman who she believed in so much, she backed her in a big way by having Harpo Studios produce Ray’s show.
“It’s hard to say goodbye to the audience, that was very tough for me, but the hardest is saying goodbye to the people who’ve become your family these past 17 years: the crew, the staff, the producers, everybody who has made 'The Rachael Ray Show' everything that it is,” Winfrey said in a pre-recorded video.
“I say congratulations and I can’t wait to see what you cook up next, yum, yum,” Winfrey concluded the video.
The final show also included an appareance from Donnie Wahlberg, who appeared on the show 13 times — sometimes with wife Jenny McCarthy, who shared a video tribute as well. Wahlberg called in during the last episode and shared his thoughts on Ray, who he called “kind” and “genuine.”
Earlier in the week, other celebrity guests that frequented the show shared send-off messages. This included Michelle Obama, Cameron Diaz, Kate Hudson, Jessica Alba, Whoopi Goldberg, Bob Harper and Gayle King, who recalled their times visiting the show and making memories with the TV host.
“Hey friend, I can’t believe it’s been 17 years since you started the show. What an incredible run,” Obama said in a pre-recorded video message.
“I am so thankful for all the memories we made together, from talking together during Barack’s very first presidential campaign to getting our hands dirty harvesting vegetables in the White House garden,” Obama continued, adding that they also donated meals to those in need. “Thank you, Rachel, for always being down for a little adventure with me and for lifting all of us up every afternoon … I can’t wait to see what you do next.”
As Ray was seated near Cusimano at the end of her last show, she thanked him for his help through the years — particularly during the pandemic as he helped with the show during quarantine as she filmed from home.
“So much going on and you’ve been with me all these years. Thank you,” Ray said, kissing her beau.
“Nobody gets me like you guys get me. You all make me better,” Ray said, closing the show by thanking her co-workers and crew. Then, tearing up, she delivered her signature signoff for the last time: “We’ll see ya when we see ya, everybody.”