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CNN LARRY KING LIVE

Encore Presentation: Interview with Rachael Ray

Aired December 25, 2006 - 18:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


LARRY KING, HOST: Hi, everybody. You're in the middle of our Christmas Day "LARRY KING LIVE" marathon. Jon Stewart and Katie Couric are coming up a bit later, but this hour, it's Rachel Ray's time to shine. She's been a kitchen icon on the Food Network since 1999. And earlier this year, with the help of Oprah Winfrey, Rachel took her act into syndication, where she's a huge success. Meeting her this past fall was a blast. She even took me out and gave me grocery shopping guidance. I hope you'll enjoy getting to know her as much as I did.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RACHAEL RAY: Give a little swish around the pan.

KING: Tonight, the woman Oprah calls super cook, Rachael Ray.

RAY: Oh, my gravy.

KING: Millions of Americans just can't get enough of this Food Network superstar and best-selling author. And now she's got her own daytime talk show.

RAY: Well, if there's one thing I can do, it's talk.

KING: Now, Rachael Ray opens up like never before on being called the anti-Martha, working with Oprah, and more.

RAY: On the money.

KING: On "LARRY KING LIVE."

Joining me now a real dish, Rachael Ray, millions of fans would love to have her hang out in their kitchen. Before we talk, a little taste of all she's done.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

OPRAH WINFREY: Now, super cook, she's super, super, super cook.

KING (voice-over): Oprah Winfrey calls Rachael Ray super cook and the queen of quick and easy. Backed by Oprah's Harpo Productions, Rachael just launched a new daytime talk show. That's on top of her Emmy-winning work for the Food Network where she spiced things up with shows like "30 Minute Meals" and "$40 a Day" and Rachael would say how cool is that? There's also her food and lifestyle magazine "Everyday with Rachael Ray" and her growing list of "New York Times" best-selling cookbooks. Rachael claims she's been unqualified for every job she's ever had. Maybe so but she's still serving up a whole lot of success.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: How did all this start for you?

RAY: It started in a marketplace in upstate New York. Jane and Donna Carnivale (ph), good friends of mine, they ran this place and we wanted more people to cook and it was during those years when the pizza chain promised pizza in 30 minutes or less. So, I was trying to come up with an idea to get our customers to buy more groceries and they said "Well, you could have a class in thirty minute meals."

KING: You worked in the store?

RAY: I did. I was the buyer and the chef he left rather unexpectedly and I ended up in the kitchen as well.

KING: You had no thoughts of being a television person?

RAY: No, I had no thoughts of being even in a production kitchen but my bosses said "Well, why don't you teach this 30-minute class" and it was a device to help our customers learn how to use groceries and to sell more food.

KING: Did somebody see you and...

RAY: Yes, the local news there, WRGB, reported on the cooking class, a lovely man named Dan Dinacolla (ph) came in and did a story on it and we became a part of the local news each week going into viewers' homes and showing them how to make dinner. And then it just sort of took over.

KING: How long ago was this?

RAY: Gosh, I don't know, like ten years ago maybe.

KING: So, are you still in the pinching myself stage?

RAY: If I had a day off I would definitely spend it pinching myself but thankfully the workload is such that I don't have a lot of time to worry and fuss about that. I try and stay focused on the work itself and not on, you know, the whole thing happening.

KING: Before we talk about a lot of things, the talk show, we'll take some calls, Oprah, who will be on this program Monday night, how did she find you?

RAY: I had been on the Food Network for a few years and the Oprah Show called and said could we come on and cook. And the first time I went on Oprah I had (INAUDIBLE) that night. We were on book tour and the planes were delayed and I was on the verge of tears going over there. I was such a basket case and I was -- I thought I was terrible and nervous and too bobble head like for Oprah and the likes of her show. And when we went to break, she leaned in and said, "Hey, you're terrific. Keep on being you." And I thought, oh my gosh, that's Oprah talking to me, you know. She's just been such a wonderful supporter of the food.

KING: How many times you been on?

RAY: Oh, gosh, I don't know, five, six, seven, I don't know.

KING: You hit it off with her right away then?

RAY: She is such a lovely -- I mean everybody sees her as a great host and this wonderful, you know, she's an icon and a terrific philanthropist. But she's just a fun friend. She's a terrific person to know.

KING: How did the Food Network start?

RAY: The Food Network saw me do a 30-minute meal with Al Roker, an upstate New Yorker on NBC's "Today Show" and they called and asked me if I would come meet with them.

And I went into the Food Network and the very first thing I said there was "You're champagne. I'm beer out of the bottle. I don't belong here. You've been duped. I need to go home. I can't even wear a chef coat. I'm not a chef. I have no pedigree. I have no cause to be on your channel with all the great chefs of the world." And they said, "No, that's what we like. Come on. Try it out. Make some of those 30-minute things."

KING: And you came up with those formats right, under $40 a day in New York.

RAY: Under $40 was actually a hybrid of the Food Network was working on a show called -- a concept I think they were going to call it "Rich Man, Poor Man" and they were going to give one guy like $500 and another guy like $50 and see what they each did. And I just gave them an opinion because we were also doing budget travel on the local news upstate by then.

I said, "You know, I got to tell you, I've been waiting on wealthy people all my life and there isn't anybody that doesn't like a good bargain." So, I think the bargain show was going to be really killer and then they offered it to me too, so I ended up with two shows.

KING: Where did you learn to cook?

RAY: My mom, very, very fortunate, my mom was the eldest of ten and my grandfather taught her because she was the first. You know she was always in the kitchen with him and he was phenomenal.

KING: You're Italian? RAY: Half Sicilian. And he was a phenomenal cook, so my mom was a phenomenal cook and she worked in restaurants for 40 years and she -- she liked to keep an eye on her kids, you know, so we all, my brother, my sister and myself we all went to work with her from a very early age and we were literally on her hip while she was working restaurants.

KING: Do you think someone is a born cook?

RAY: I think anybody can cook. Somebody may be more born to -- to, you know, really love food and have it be a passion for them but I really believe anybody can cook, certainly if a klutz like me...

KING: But what makes a great cook?

RAY: I think a good eater makes you the best cook. If you love to eat, then you should -- I think it's in you to become a decent cook.

KING: But I mean do you notice a good cook know what it's going to taste like?

RAY: You -- you...

KING: Before he or she tastes it?

RAY: I think -- I think if you're a good eater and you enjoy the taste of food when you're dining out and you really think about what you're eating and you're really into all that you'll probably have a better time in the kitchen and develop a little further along.

KING: How did the talk show come about? (INAUDIBLE) you're going to have everything in the world. What are you looking for? Are you looking for everything?

RAY: I wasn't looking for anything. You know I've always -- I've always loved life and I was just as happy as a waitress and a bartender as I am doing the talk show. I mean it's a wonderful opportunity. It came about from a lot of things. Harpo and Oprah wanted to work with us on a long-term basis. King World came to us because Terri Wood's (ph) 7-year-old daughter liked watching me on TV.

KING: Do you know Roger King?

RAY: I do. He's the greatest salesman in the world and a lovely man and makes a heck of a tuna fish sandwich.

KING: Not wound up too tight but a lovely man.

RAY: A very lovely man and Food Network, of course, Brook Johnson (ph) said "Hey, what are we going to try next" and so all of them got together and supported each other.

KING: So this is a Harpo/King World?

RAY: Harpo, King World, Scripps Howard, the parent company of Food Network, and even buying my husband's little production company watch.

KING: And it debuted today, right?

RAY: It debuted today.

KING: How many stations are you on?

RAY: I don't even know how many.

KING: What's the concept?

RAY: The concept is there's a lot of viewer involvement and accessibility is the key. The number one goal of everything I do or am involved in as can people watch it and picture themselves doing it, trying it, living it easily? You know is it accessible? And, are they having a laugh, you know?

So, people who see a lot of themselves on our show and hopefully we'll make them laugh and, of course, I can't go too long without a snack, so at the end of every show we have a lot of good food.

KING: Were you nervous opening day?

RAY: I was so busy today I couldn't be because we tape ahead. We pre-recorded today's show on 9/7, so I was so busy taping today I couldn't be.

KING: I'm not talking about today. Were you nervous on 9/7?

RAY: Absolutely and I was so nervous I thought it was good luck though, my first day on the Food Network I was talking with my hands and I cut this finger off on my first day. The show that aired today, our very first show of Rachael Ray Show I cut into the cuticle of this finger, reaching for a whip.

KING: Good going. And Diane Sawyer was there today?

RAY: Diane Sawyer was fabulous, fantastic, was pitching apples out to the audience and it was -- it was great fun.

KING: Rachael Ray is our special guest. We'll be including phone calls for her later.

Just ahead, Rachel redefines the phrase "out on the town" and she's taking me along for a hands on lesson how and where to shop. As we go to break, a clip from today's debut with A-list guest Diane Sawyer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DIANE SAWYER: OK, I have a housewarming present.

RAY: I got a housewarming present?

SAWYER: Yes.

RAY: Yes.

SAWYER: (INAUDIBLE) at Good Morning America. Went to one of the woodworkers in town and we said, "Burn this into a plaque for Rachael."

RAY: Oh!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: It's one thing to sit here and talk about what Rachael Ray does for a living. Tonight, I'm taking -- I'm taking talk to the next level as Rachael tells me or takes me, rather, to her favorite shopping spots here in the city that never sleeps and never stops eating. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KING: We're in Chelsea Market with Rachael Ray. This is her book, of course, and you'll be seeing a lot more of it on the show, "Express Lane Meals." In fact, one of these meals is going to be put together as we shop here at the market.

RAY: Let's go. Let's go shop.

KING: I got my bag.

RAY: And, look, it matches. You look so lovely, coordinated.

KING: Onward.

RAY: So what goes better with an Italian meal than nice crusty bread? We're going to go grab a loaf at Amy's.

KING: Let's go. How about the crusty loaf of Ciabatta?

RAY: Ciabatta, Ciabatta, there are little rolls over there.

KING: What are we taking?

RAY: One of those rustic Italian minis there. That's just big enough.

KING: That's good enough for me.

RAY: You got to leave room for the pasta.

KING: OK.

RAY: Organic peeled tomatoes from Italy, these are San Marzano's, some good olive oil. That's a decent price and a beautiful bottle, gorgeous, nice, fruity olive oil, so we're going right down. You need a little peperoncini, crushed red pepper flakes.

KING: Canned chick peas. RAY: Chick peas add protein and they give the sauce a nice flavor. Spaghetti.

KING: What do you suggest?

RAY: This is the best, this brand, and this is two pounds because this is Italian products so you buy it by the kilo, not by the pound, so make sure you only make half of this or you're going to have enough spaghetti to feed 12 neighbors. We need some thyme, dried thyme and we need some parmigiano reggiano.

KING: You need thyme? It's five o'clock, little joke. Rach, I like that.

RAY: That's what everybody calls me all my life.

KING: We're doing a healthy dinner so we can have anything right?

RAY: You can have anything you want for dessert and Eleni makes everything from scratch just like my grandmother never did.

KING: OK, let's go for it. Go for a couple smiley cookies.

RAY: Oh, they're so cute.

KING: And then for my boys give me assorted animals. That's good, one more. OK.

RAY: That's great.

KING: I got my bag.

RAY: The kids will love those. OK, so now you got a basket full of dinner. All you got to do is take the easy recipe home, unpack the groceries, and put it in the pan. It will kind of cook itself.

KING: I'm going to take your book too.

RAY: OK, good.

KING: Thank you.

RAY: Excellent.

KING: This is something I've never done.

RAY: I can't believe I'm the first girl who got him to go grocery shopping. I'm very proud.

KING: You stand alone.

RAY: Probably the first and last time too but I can daydream.

KING: OK, simple. It will be done.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: That was quite an experience. That's quite a place at Chelsea Market.

RAY: Chelsea Market.

KING: I've never been there.

RAY: I love it. It's so fantastic, my neighbors -- yes.

KING: And here's the bag with all the stuff, the spaghetti and...

RAY: With all the stuff but like I said you didn't get it into a pot yet though, Larry. You got to actually cook it.

KING: I love the spaghetti and the whole thing. This is going to be...

RAY: It's going to be a tasty dinner. You can do it. I have such confidence. It's the easiest one in the book. It comes from a section called Meals for the Exhausted. How hard could it be?

KING: The books, how many books have you written?

RAY: You know I honestly think that there's -- there's 13 in print but there's like some mini books that came out as well that are kind of repackaged small little stocking stuffers, so I think there's like 17 or 18, you know, in print but I've written 13.

KING: Do you feel like an industry?

RAY: No.

KING: No?

RAY: I just feel like somebody who loves food. And, you know, the books I have to write so much for Food Network and now for the new show it's 285 episodes of TV that have food in it in '07, so those books, I mean it seems like I'm sitting down all at one time and writing this big thing. It's not.

I'm just keeping up with my work and I figure why not do for people and put it in small, affordable collections and have them come out, you know, frequently. We only do paperback. I won't sell a book that's over 20 bucks, has to be less than a music CD. And they're really compilations of the work that I'm doing on the TV and the magazine.

KING: What does your husband do?

RAY: He's a lawyer by day, a rocker by night, and he...

KING: A rocker by night?

RAY: Yes, he has a rock band called the Cringe, I love them. They're awesome, look for them on an upcoming show.

KING: Any children?

RAY: Well we have a pit bull named Isaboo (ph) who we treat like a child does that count?

KING: Do you want children?

RAY: I like working with children and I love doing for children.

KING: You mean no.

RAY: I mean we're developing a charity for children to help educate them in food and get them more interested in what they eat when they're at home and at school, kind of like Jamie Oliver (ph).

But, no, I really don't have the physical energy or I think the proper amount of time to devote in the foreseeable future at least to having one of my own but that doesn't mean maybe we won't adopt one.

KING: Has your pit bull killed anyone?

RAY: No, my pit bull is very, very sweet. I've had a pit bull between Boo (ph) and Isaboo for about 15, 16 years now straight.

KING: What don't we know about them?

RAY: They're some of the sweetest animals on earth. I mean they're just like people. They can't -- nothing can be born evil, not in my book anyway, and Boo was afraid of her own voice. If she would bark too loud, she'd run and hide under the sofa and I'd have to coax her out with treats. And Isaboo is wonderful with small children and they're both very good eaters and they both love butternut squash.

KING: Is there anything -- we'll be taking calls from folks and lots of other little surprises coming other places. We're going to do under $40 a day for you as well. Anything left for you to do?

RAY: My calendar is booked. I mean I'm busy for a while, yes, so I guess I have a lot to do. I mean it sure looks like it on paper.

KING: I mean other than what you're -- like a new...

RAY: No, I know what you mean. I mean I don't know. I mean I didn't plan any of this and it's so much fun and I love the gift of going to work every day and having fun at my job. And I do for a living what I would do for leisure at any other job. I cook. I chat.

KING: Well, anybody doing what they do, if you love what you do you can't beat it.

RAY: You're too happy.

KING: Did you ever meet Julia Child?

RAY: I never did and I was such a huge, huge fan. I had been at dinners where she was in the room and events and stuff but I never got a chance to actually shake her hand. And she was such a favorite when I was a child.

We would just watch her because she was a pleasant personality. She had such fun in the kitchen. She used to whack the garlic and it would go flying and throwing a fistful of this and a handful of that. She never measured. She had so much fun in the kitchen.

KING: She was a great lady too.

RAY: Yes, she looked like just number one class act of all time.

KING: Are you tough when you eat out? Do chefs quake?

RAY: Are you kidding me? I'm not a chef. I'm a cook and I eat everything and anything. I mean I'm not -- I'm not at all picky. So, unless I'm going to Yankee Stadium I have to bring my own chopped onions and relish because I can't get it there but other than that I'm not picky.

KING: George Steinbrenner watches this show.

RAY: Please, George, give us some -- give us some proper chopped onions. I eat them. My husband is a Yankee fan I have to admit (INAUDIBLE).

KING: (INAUDIBLE) right?

RAY: But we have to go to the stadium a lot and I have to bring in my own relish and onions.

KING: So you buy a -- you buy a frankfurter there you can't get...

RAY: No. I bring in my own little thermal bag with onions and relish and extra spicy mustard.

KING: When we come back New York on $40 a day. She says it's possible. We'll see if it's a doable thing with my wife and kids. As we go to break, Rachael on her friend Oprah's show.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAY: Wrap and roll the asparagus.

WINFREY: OK, good, good, good, good.

RAY: Super cute.

WINFREY: Cute?

RAY: Super cute (INAUDIBLE).

WINFREY: I mean and then you put these on the tray with this or separate?

RAY: No, separate.

WINFREY: Separate.

RAY: Little stacks of everything. Then down here, I love this.

WINFREY: I didn't eat lunch, go ahead.

RAY: This stuff here, no yes, you were planning ahead. You knew I would bring -- I never come without (INAUDIBLE) because you've always got the (INAUDIBLE).

WINFREY: OK.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: How cheap can you eat in New York? This is me and Shawn and Chance and Cannon at Shea Stadium last week. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Under $40 a day. Wow, and in New York. Hot dogs, cracker jacks, sodas coming, the kids, the wife. What could be better? We don't even live here.

You can do it. Under 40 bucks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Other than going to a ballpark, can you really do that?

RAY: The ballpark, actually, I was shocked that you could do. The ballpark is easy to go over $40.

KING: Yes, but we could with two frankfurters, if you starve the kids.

RAY: Yes, exactly. You can and you can't. I mean, you can always find terrific food. You can find great food in Manhattan very easily for under $10, and I did a segment like that on Oprah's show, actually. We went out and did our favorite street foods. So, you know, it depends on what kind of evening you want to have. If you want a lot of cocktails and catch a show, no. If you want decent food from nice people and especially if you want to eat ethnic here in the city, you've got a gazillion options under on $40.

So, New York is wonderful because it is the whole world in one city, and you have tons of options.

KING: Surprise guest on the phone, say hello, sir.

MARIO BATALI, IRON CHEF: Good evening, Larry and Rachael, how are?

KING: What do you think of our guest, Rachel Ray? RAY: Mario, is that you?

BATALI: She's a dreamboat.

RAY: I love you. Hi, how are you?

BATALI: Good, how are you doing?

RAY: I'm extremely excited.

BATALI: Congratulations.

KING: It's Mario Batali. Mario is the internationally known chef and restauranteur, Food network star, including one of the "Iron Chefs." He's a best-seller author himself. Mario, what makes Rachael special?

BATALI: Rachel empowers people who don't want to watch my show and learn how to cook, she teaches them how to cook.

RAY: I love watching your show.

BATALI: Rachael takes things that you can find in every grocery store in America, makes them into an interesting food item and makes it, I believe, probably under the most important condition, time frame.

RAY: I'm speechless.

KING: How did you two hook up? At the Food Network?

BATALI: I snuck in and watched her tape one show after she had just started. I had heard someone really cool was working there and I was in the middle of some meeting somewhere, and I walked in and stood off set and watched her. I think they kept resetting a scoop of gelato in something for like, 15 minutes. I said, wow.

RAY: He's wonderful.

KING: What makes Mario special, Rachael?

RAY: Everything. Mario, he says a lot, food is love, and Mario is love, too. He's just such a wonderful human being inside and out. He eats life. That's why he's so much fun to be around. He doesn't just know all about food, he knows about living. He knows how to laugh at everything and not take anything too seriously. He just loves life.

KING: Life can be competitive, Mario. Are you at all a little envious of what's happening to her?

BATALI: No, I've got my own little gig going pretty well.

RAY: Yes, he's a little busy.

BATALI: No, we have different angles, and we're both doing really well and it's good to see good people do well.

KING: Do you own a restaurant?

BATALI: I own eight.

RAY: Yes, and counting. When Mario calls me, it says on my phone, Pubello Rock Star, most beautiful rock star because that's what he is, I mean, he's just such a rock star.

KING: So we will not need a benefit. We won't have to throw a benefit for Mario?

BATALI: Not for me.

RAY: We could always do an extra benefit for Food Bank though, right?

BATALI: There you go.

RAY: There you go.

KING: Mario, thanks for chiming in. It's a big day.

RAY: Thank you so much, Mario.

BATALI: Congratulations and nice to talk to you, Larry.

RAY: Thank you. Happy early birthday, Mario.

BATALI: All right.

KING: We have an e-mail question for Rachael from Kelly of Lake Oswego, Oregon. It says I love Rachael. As a brand, do you worry about being overexposed?

RAY: You know, it's one of those things, again, I work so much, I don't have a lot of time to, you know, really truly think about that question, but I am very careful with the brand itself, the pots that I put my name on. I designed them. I drew them on a piece of paper. I think it was actually a paper towel first, and then it graduated to paper. So I try not to put my name on something that I don't really believe in and have a huge part in helping create.

My knife, the shape that I use, Fury is an Australian company. They worked with me to add a safety grip because I'm an exceptionally accident-prone chopper. So I try and be very much involved in that. I do care very much about, you know, how the name is used because there's so many great people that work within the Rachael Ray Show and on the magazine. I want to make them proud, and I wouldn't want to do anything to hurt their image.

KING: A "New York Post" page six claims Martha Stewart's staffers tried to infiltrate a taping of your show last week, using fake names, but were kicked out by a security guard. A spokesperson for Martha Stewart denies the whole thing, says there was no misrepresentation. She says Martha's people were asked to leave by a member of Rachael's team who used to be an audience coordinator, not by a security guard. What's the story?

RAY: I don't know, I was taping. I guess there was something with people trying to come in that weren't on the audience list and had different I.D. You know what? Anybody from Martha's show or anybody's show is always welcome. The tickets are free. And we have snacks. We're friendly, and the door is open.

KING: What would be the big deal?

RAY: I don't know what the big deal is. You could just watch it on TV. I don't really know.

KING: Do you know Martha?

RAY: I don't know Martha. I've never personally met her.

KING: All this attention that you get in this city, you don't --

RAY: I don't know her. I don't go to a lot of functions.

KING: Do you regard her as a rival?

RAY: Not in the least and I have always felt terrible about that because Martha knows how to do so much more than Rachael Ray. I mean Martha knows how to craft and bake and build, you know. She is iconic. And she's built a fabulous industry.

KING: You're a chef.

RAY: I am a miserable failure at 90 percent of what Martha can do so beautifully well. And I've always thought it's a wonderful compliment for me to be compared on any level with Martha. And it must be very, not so fun to have somebody who can barely make burgers and pasta, you know, compared with someone who's worked so hard and done so many things.

KING: Nicely said. By the way, we took our under $40 a day complete to Beverly Hills, California, my home, where I frequently, frequently, almost every, every day have breakfast at Nate & Al's with my buddies and they hang out there and Sid Young and the gang. This was the scene at Nate & Al's.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KING: L.A. under $40 a day. Could happen. Does happen. I'm at Nate & Al's. Where else? Is this heaven? Under $40 a day. Who knew?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAY: We're going to do this, out of a plane, let's just free- fall. Whatever you're afraid of, you'll be afraid of nothing when you're done with this. You ready?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am, like, so scared.

RAY: I haven't even finished a picnic table. Come on let's do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We've now learned that Rachael is also sick. And what was that about? Someone with a fear of...

RAY: A woman had a fear of heights and she had read that I had gone sky-diving before and that I loved it, and she asked me if I would take her jumping to get over her fear of heights, so I did, and we had a blast. She came in walking tall and looking fabulous. It was fun. It was great.

KING: She got over it, then?

RAY: She certainly did at two and a half miles up, she totally got over it quickly. Yes, she had a ball.

KING: Rachael makes even the cover of "Life" magazine.

RAY: Isn't it nice "Life's" back?

KING: "Life's" back in inserts in newspapers. Is it true you have a plaque in your house about Martha Stewart?

RAY: My good friend, Vickie Filiachi (ph), gave me as a gift, again, talking about what I brought up earlier because I'm very klutzy and not really capable of crafting or doing too many domestic things beyond making supper. She gave me a plaque that reads "Martha Stewart Doesn't Live Here." And unfortunately, a press person came over to the house and one point and wrote about it and now it haunts me forever.

KING: Like it's a rivalry? You have no rivalry.

RAY: I have none, none, none whatsoever. It was given to me because I'm a goof. You know, my good friend didn't even give it to me as any sort of, you know, thing. It was just making fun of how little I can't do.

KING: Martha's pretty sharp.

RAY: Martha's extremely sharp.

KING: You want to do something smart?

RAY: What?

KING: Invite her on your show and she'll invite you on her show.

RAY: I would love to. I would love to.

KING: Oprah's on tomorrow, right?

RAY: Oprah is on tomorrow. I'm very, very excited. She came by on her way to Africa. That was taped earlier. But she came by to open a school and made time to stop and make pizza with us. That's pretty cool.

KING: And Oprah will be here one week from tonight. Let's take a call. Sharon, Georgia. Hello.

CALLER: Hi there.

RAY: Hi there.

CALLER: You are so adorable. Even my husband is willing to sit in the same room while you're on.

RAY: High praise indeed.

CALLER: Well, you know, it's a cooking show, and it's just not his thing. I want to say first of all that we think that you're just so adorable and we're glad that you are not a twig.

RAY: Thank you.

CALLER: You're a healthy young woman and you're energetic and you're wonderful. We have 19 rescued animals in our house, so we pinch pennies in any way, which means we don't go out to eat. So I have had to learn -- and I think I'm getting pretty good -- at making all kinds of fun and interesting foods that you would get if you lived in the city and you could go to a restaurant.

RAY: Absolutely.

CALLER: Unfortunately, we have only regular grocery stores.

RAY: Right.

CALLER: We're in the boon docks of Georgia and I cannot even get Prosciutto. As a matter of fact, I don't think they know what I'm talking about.

RAY: You know what you can do, and lots of times it's so much more affordable than going to any kind of market, even a regular supermarket, is you can go online and buy anything and everything.

CALLER: We have no computer.

RAY: You can go to the library and borrow theirs.

CALLER: Oh, OK.

RAY: Or stop by a neighbor's house that has one.

CALLER: I wanted to go to you and I couldn't, because I have to have an e-mail address.

KING: Go to -- all the libraries have them.

RAY: Yes, you can go right to the library, go online, and Google any food and you'll find at least 50 different places you can buy it and all of those things -- just for spices, for instance, you can go to penzisspices.com. And they say everything in bulk and it costs way less than you'd ever get it at the grocery store.

I mean, for people that don't have the ability to get there. And you know what, it is so smart of you to want to turn to, you know, going into different types of food and different ethnic foods. Because you know, like Thai food and Chinese food and Japanese food and so much of Mediterranean food is made with tons of fresh veggies and with Italian cooking especially, it's all about stretching a buck with pasta and beans and rice. So there's so many great opportunities for you online.

So get down to the library. I think it's so fantastic. What a nice person if you're pinching pennies to make time and the money to take care of 19 animals. That's amazing.

KING: We have an e-mail question from Gail in Pasadena, Maryland. Why do chefs use loose pepper or a pepper mill instead of a pepper shaker?

RAY: Well, the pepper mill, it's a nice fresh thing, and pepper's filled with lots of oils, so you're freshly cracking it. It really develops the flavor, and it can get a little stale if it hangs out. I do use a jar of coarse black pepper if I'm totally crusting up a ton of stuff or making a huge batch of something. But otherwise the fresh ground just just gives you a little fresh poppy flavor.

KING: What's a pepper shaker?

RAY: A pepper shaker, it's just, you know, what the diner uses.

KING: It's called normal.

RAY: Yes, normal.

KING: That's what I use.

RAY: That's fine. And it has, I'm sure, lots of peppery flavor.

KING: I like it though when the waiter says, would you like some pepper?

RAY: Would you like some pepper? Yes, there's a certain amount of pomp and circumstance. A little showy to do it.

KING: It's a little savoir-faire, not that I know what that meant. Anyway, Anderson Cooper stands by. He will host "A.C 360" at the top of the hour. Anderson, what's up?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Larry, a lot to cover tonight. Starting right here in New York with the president talking about Iran. President Bush and the president of Iran are both here in New York. They're both talking to the U.N. tomorrow, but they're not going to talk to each other. Tonight we're going to be looking at what the likelihood of war with Iran really is and what that war would look like.

Also, the pope and his comments about Islam, touching on violent protests around the Muslim world. Can the pope take back what he said and if he does, can the Vatican stop the violence? That's ahead at the top of the hour, Larry.

KING: Thanks, Anderson, "A.C. 36O," 10 Eastern, seven Pacific.

Next up, I'll talk to Rachael about her spiciest spread ever. This one has nothing to do with food. It's coming up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my god.

RAY: A moment I'll never forget.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my gosh.

RAY: And a show you'll always remember. You never know who's going to drop by, or in this case, who's going to drop in! It's Oprah!

OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST: When Rachael and I get together, you know it's going to be fun.

RAY: My two favorite people in one show. My reunion with the one and only Ms. O and I have got a surprise for her.

WINFREY: I'm ready.

RAY: Signed sealed, delivered, she's yours.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAY: Hello! Hi! Hi! Hi! I'm very, very excited because this is my first show not only of this show, but my first show with people. For five years, right? Think about that. For five years, I've been on Food Network, national television, talking to vegetables.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Funny beginning. That show debuted today. We mentioned a dark secret that she'd rather have out, but no, we, being the kind of show we are, we investigate everything.

RAY: Oh, dear.

KING: A couple of years back you posed for photos that appeared in the men's magazine "FHM." RAY: That's true.

KING: Let's see them.

RAY: Oh, great.

KING: Scandalous.

RAY: Lovely.

KING: I can't believe it.

RAY: Nice.

KING: Oh my gosh. A career ruined.

RAY: Oh, there's the Thanksgiving turkey.

KING: Oh my heavens.

RAY: You know, I was so flattered. First of all, they called the Food Network and inquired, FHM, and the publicity department came up to me and said FHM called and wondered if you wanted to do something in their magazine. I'm like, what, what's FHM? Food? I didn't even know what it was. And then they said. I was, like, you know what --.

KING: What is it?

RAY: It's kind of like Maxim. It's a guy's magazine. I still don't know what it stands for, for him magazine, or something, I would guess, I don't know. But, you know what? I thought about it, and I discussed it with my husband, and I got to tell you, I'm over 35. I'm definitely not a size 0. You know, I cook for a living. I work really hard. I'm not, you know, I'm not 18, and I'm not any of these girls. I thought it was pretty cool to go in there and maybe represent for the real chicks, so I did.

KING: What did that feel like?

RAY: Scared, scary, horrible, horrifying, very, very scary. I definitely would never do it again, but I was proud that I did, because I think I represented an every person in there. And you know, now I'm 38. So it was a few years ago. I was still over 35 when I did it.

KING: You do not look 38.

RAY: Thank you. I appreciate that. I'll pay you later.

KING: You could be 28.

RAY: Thank you. I really appreciate that.

KING: You do look terrific.

RAY: Thank you.

KING: OK, we're going to take a break, one more break. And when we come back, Rachael's fans think she's ready for anything. Is she ready for a surprise guest?

RAY: Oh, dear.

KING: Who will join us here in the studio. Find out next. Don't go away.

RAY: My gravy.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAY: After a little advice from Gloria and a short tutorial from her friend David, I'm ready to try my luck out on the dance floor. Especially since my sweetie, John, has joined me. I had a great time with Gloria Estefan here at Bondo's Cuban Cafe. All that's left to do now is keep on dancing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: My god, what doesn't she do?

RAY: That was really, really, really fun. I love Gloria Estefan. She's going to come on in a couple weeks so I hope we dance some more.

KING: She's terrific, Miami. Let's bring in a surprise guest. Let's not make a whole big deal of it. But is the surprise guest ready?

RAY: Oh, yes, yes.

JOHN CUSIMANO, RACHAEL RAY'S HUSBAND: Hi.

RAY: Hi, honey.

CUSIMANO: How are you?

RAY: Here, you want my chair?

CUSIMANO: No, no. Hi.

RAY: Hi, honey. Hi.

CUSIMANO: How are you? I was watching in Larry's office. You are doing really good.

KING: Here's her husband, John Cusimano. Where did you think he was?

RAY: At home. I called him and asked him, do you want to order some take-out and I'll be home in a little bit? CUSIMANO: It was so hard sneaking me in here. You guys were late. I was here first. I had to hide, and you guys came in. And then I went out. They corralled me in Larry's office. There was a half-eaten cookie on the desk.

KING: So how's she doing tonight?

RAY: Well, I don't know, I haven't seen her all day.

KING: No I mean on the show. John, John --.

CUSIMANO: Oh, on the show, she's doing phenomenal.

RAY: John, wake up, come on.

KING: What's it like, though to be a regular guy and have a famous wife?

CUSIMANO: I don't know. It's really nice when we, you know, walk around and the fan comes up and says I love you, I love your show. You've made, you know, my life so much easier by teaching me how to cook. My husband's happy or whatever it is. So that part's really nice. And the rest of it sort of like you wake up, she goes to work, I go to work, and you don't think about, you know, the fame part of it.

KING: It doesn't affect your ego?

CUSIMANO: It certainly doesn't affect hers and I don't think it affects mine.

RAY: It doesn't affect his either. He's got plenty.

KING: How did you two meet?

RAY: That's a funny story. Well, we had an acquaintance recommended us to each other, but because this person was really racy and out on the town and very, you know, kind of a jet set type, we thought, oh, jeez, a friend of that person wouldn't like me. And he thought the same. Then we went to a party that person threw. Everybody there was really tall except me and John, so we saw each other right away.

CUSIMANO: We saw each other in a sea of knees.

RAY: And that person bent down and said, hey, dummy, that's the guy I wanted you to meet a year ago.

KING: Was there an immediate like?

CUSIMANO: Yes.

RAY: We've been plastered on each other, making people sick ever since then.

CUSIMANO: My very good friend who was with me and single at the time, you know how single guys never want their other single friends to get hooked up, he looked at me and goes, oh, you are done. That was my friend, Michael.

RAY: Aw.

KING: How long are you married now?

RAY: Well we were only married a year, but we were together, like, five years before that.

CUSIMANO: Yes, we've been together a total of five years.

RAY: It's certainly dog years for us. Like, you know how dog age is seven for everyone. John and I feel like we've been together a lot longer than we have, but in a good way, right honey.

CUSIMANO: Yes, a very good way. We keep busy.

KING: What's the number one difference?

RAY: Do we have a difference?

CUSIMANO: I make coffee, she doesn't.

RAY: Oh, yes, John makes coffee, and I couldn't.

KING: You can't make coffee?

RAY: I can't make coffee.

KING: Chef of the year can't make coffee.

RAY: My coffee either looks like cat pee or mud and it tastes worse than either. It's awful. I'm not allowed near the coffee. He won't even let me near the coffee maker.

CUSIMANO: No, she's not allowed near the coffee maker.

RAY: Can't handle it, can't handle it. But I have a very, very, very sweet husband and he always waits up and has dinner with me, and we cook together. I married the only man in the world who tolerates eating dinner at midnight.

KING: There was an e-mail question earlier. I wonder what you think, John. Is there a danger you think she could be overexposed?

CUSIMANO: Well, yes, I guess there is, but we're, you know, Rachael, as you said earlier, is very aware of being true to the, call it a brand, and only getting behind and putting her name on things that she truly believes in or helped design or things she would use herself. So I guess as long as you stay true to your vision, hopefully it will work.

KING: We have an e-mail from Heather in Branson, West Missouri. How do you find time for your husband with all the commitments you now have with your career? RAY: That's what I said, I have a very understanding guy who will wait until midnight to have dinner and hang out and talk. So, with this new show, though, I am actually home more. At least I go home every night, it may be really late.

CUSIMANO: Right, the show tapes in town. So she comes home every night. It's when she travels or goes on book tours or is doing a tasty travels, you know, run. That's a little tough.

RAY: He comes and visits me on the road, though.

KING: Did you attend her first show?

CUSIMANO: I wasn't actually at the first show, but I was home watching it today.

RAY: And he's been on a few times so far, with the dog, too, with the pit bull.

KING: What did you think of today's show?

CUSIMANO: I thought it was incredibly amazing.

RAY: Thank you, honey.

CUSIMANO: Super high energy. I mean, you know, I'm so wrapped up in it that it's hard to be objective. Of course, I love her and I love her show but, I mean, I'm trying to imagine if I didn't know her at all. I think it was a really, really good, amazing --

KING: You're levelheaded. You could be objective.

CUSIMANO: It's unlike anything that I've ever seen on daytime TV. And it's really, it's got her stamp on everything, which is great.

KING: I had a lot of fun tonight.

RAY: Thank you so much.

KING: Thanks for coming along. Rachael Ray and her husband, John.

RAY: Thanks for bringing my husband in early.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: Now in honor of the holiday, we close this show with Gladys Knight, one of my favorite people, performing a Christmas classic. By the way, Gladys has two great new CD's out -- "Before Me," a collection of standards paying tribute to great female singers of old, and a Christmas CD called "A Christmas Celebration."

Merry Christmas, everybody.

(MUSIC) TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com

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