Like Rome, Rachael Ray’s far-reaching branding empire of kitchen gadgets, culinary TV shows, and New York Times’ bestselling books (she’s sold 10 million copies of her 20 published titles) wasn’t built in a day (it’s grown steadily over the past decade), but it’s hard to remember a time when the Food Network star’s name wasn’t synonymous with every day cooking.

“Rachael’s typical fan could be 8 years old, 88 years old, a stay-at-home mom or a professional firefighter, and she considers all these people when she sets out to develop a new line of products or a new idea for a TV show,” says John Cusimano, Ray’s husband and CEO of her company, Watch Entertainment, which oversees all brand developments. “Two of the things that Rachael thinks about are would I use this at home and is the product solution-based? Is it going to make someone’s life easier or solve their problem in the kitchen?”

From Every Day With Rachael Ray, the award-winning magazine that’s published 10 times a year and reaches an audience of 7.3 million readers, to her soon-to-be launched line of seasoning grinders (in partnership with Colavita, the company that produces its famous extra virgin olive oils), to Yum-o!, the nonprofit philanthropic organization that helps kids and their families eat and stay healthy, Ray always put her fans’ needs first.

“Rachael’s natural, relatable and accessible way of engaging her fans on our air, as well as on her syndicated show and through her brand extensions, represents the gold standard of our business,” touts Brooke Johnson, president of Food Network and Cooking Channel. “Rachael knows who she is and has found great success in delivering on her brand’s promise — sharing the joy of cooking as a champion for the home cook.”

“A lot of other brands can grow a lot more quickly because they’ll put their brand on anything,” adds Cusimano. “Rachael is a lot more selective. She wants to be proud of what she sells. After a decade of slow and steady growth, we’re really happy where ‘Rachael Ray’ is and proud of where we are.”

‘Rachael Ray’ 1,000th Episode
Cook took to new venture | Ratings up from a year ago | Ray’s favorite guests, moments | Hot culinary brand branches out