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Rachael Ray


Rachael Ray

The perky 38-year-old has published over a dozen cookbooks and hosts four TV shows

G.K. Chesterton said that there is no such thing as a boring subject. There are only bored persons. Everything in God's creation is intrinsically interesting, though we are so dull-minded that we often miss the wonder of it all.

It follows that the right guide can make anything fascinating. You don't have to care about cars to find NPR's Car Talk entertaining, thanks to the wit and bantering of Click and Clack (aka Tom and Ray Magliozzi). And you don't have to care about cooking to appreciate Food Network superstar Rachael Ray.

Ms. Ray was a food-buyer for an upstate New York market when her classes on how to fix great meals in only 30 minutes attracted media attention. Now, the perky 38-year-old has published over a dozen cookbooks and hosts four TV shows.

One of her shows on the Food Network is a continuation of what she did during her grocery store days. On Thirty Minute Meals she demonstrates how busy families can enjoy spectacular home-cooked meals.

But her most entertaining show is $40 a Day, in which she goes to a popular tourist spot-from the Grand Canyon to Rome-and samples the local cuisine with only two $20 bills. Along the way, she seeks out cheap but good diners, splurges on an exotic dessert at a top-rated bakery, then makes up for it by putting together a good dinner from sidewalk vendors.

Unlike Martha Stewart, Ms. Ray does not project perfection. Unlike Julia Child, she is not a culinary aristocrat. Ms. Ray celebrates what one can do under limitations-of time, of money, of locale-and demonstrates how creative, fun, and interesting it is to work within those limitations. That is more than a lesson in cooking; it is a lesson in life.