Rachael Ray offers advice to Valerie Bertinelli, talks new TV show and Ukraine visit

Rachael Ray has some words of encouragement for her friend Valerie Bertinelli after Bertinelli's comments about their former employer made headlines.

“The only thing you can do in life is to go through,” Ray, 55, tells USA TODAY. “You can’t go around and you can’t do nothing. You got to go through. And I hope that’s what my sweetheart friend is going to do next is go through and find the next thing.”Ray’s words were in response to comments made by Bertinelli about Food Network; both hosts once were staples of the cable network. Food Network's parent company, Warner Bros. Discovery, has made a number of cost-cutting moves, and said goodbye to familiar faces including Ray, Bertinelli and "Cake Boss" Buddy Valastro.

Bertinelli took to the social platform Threads to talk about the current state of the channel, lamenting, “It’s sad (the Food Network is) not about cooking and learning any longer. Oh well, that’s just business, folks.” (USA TODAY reached out to Food Network for comment.)

Rachael Ray returns to TV with "Rachael Ray's Meals in Minutes," airing on A&E's FYI Network.
Rachael Ray returns to TV with "Rachael Ray's Meals in Minutes," airing on A&E's FYI Network.

Complaints: Valerie Bertinelli slams Food Network: 'It's not about cooking or learning any longer'

Ray returns to TV with 'Meals in Minutes'

Ray, 55, is also in a bit of a transition – her eponymous syndicated daytime talk show ended last July. Now she’s on to that “next thing”: a production company called Free Food Studios, in which A&E Networks acquired a 50% stake. Ray reveals that she’s developed six shows under the deal. The first, “Rachael Ray’s Meals in Minutes,” (Mondays, 9 EDT/PDT) premiered on A&E’s FYI Network this week.

“I think that all programing, if it's inside your house, if it's food, or if it's about music or if it's about coming into your private space, I want everyone to always feel empowered,” the host says. “I want you to know you can do anything we share with you, whether that's travel or how to make dinner.”

Ray’s latest show is a callback to a familiar favorite: a 30-minute program that brings you into her kitchen and perhaps makes cooking a little less intimidating. The host’s first Food Network show was called “30 Minute Meals” and ran from 2001 to 2012, with a revival in 2019.

Musician John Cusimano (left) makes an occasional appearance on Rachael Ray's latest show, "Rachael Ray's Meals in Minutes." The couple married in 2005.
Musician John Cusimano (left) makes an occasional appearance on Rachael Ray's latest show, "Rachael Ray's Meals in Minutes." The couple married in 2005.

For “Meals in Minutes,” Ray and her husband, musician John Cusimano, began filming during the COVID-19 lockdown.

“I love the feeling of work,” Ray says. “I made my husband leave our own honeymoon. I said, ‘I can’t journal anymore. I’ve filled two notebooks. I’ve taken 645 pictures.’ And I’m like, ‘I just can’t do this. We gotta leave.’”

Ray married Cusimano in 2005; they honeymooned in Africa. He was also ready to leave, but it wasn’t because he filled up his notebooks.

“Imagine a hockey puck with eight legs on it, dangling above your head,” Cusimano recalls, while Ray laughs hysterically. “So I called the front desk and I said, ‘I don’t want to be that guy, but there’s a really scary looking spider in our room, and you got to get rid of it.’”

The general manager came to their room but wouldn’t kill the insect because it was considered endangered. After assuring them that it was “friendly,” the hotel employee attempted to entrap it with a glass. Instead, the spider darted behind a bookcase.

They left the next day.

The TV personality plans to return to Ukraine, soon

After our chat, Ray and her husband were flying to Italy to meet up with her sister and their dog Bella. In less than two weeks, Ray would be traveling again to Ukraine. She’s visited the area in relief support a number of times through Chef José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen and penned an op-ed for USA TODAY about the war in 2022.

“I will be so happy and proud to be there,” Ray says. “If I'm going to die, I'm going to die with people I respect and children I respect. I wish I could say that about our Congress right now.”

Ray isn’t happy with the US government’s stalemate over funding for Ukraine in the country’s war against Russia. A foreign aid bill that would’ve sent $60 billion to Ukraine and $14 billion to Israel stalled in the House of Representatives earlier this year. However, there is new momentum behind the bill from House Republicans following an Iranian attack on Israel.

“I believe in America. I'm proud to be an American,” she continues. “If we can't defend Ukrainians right now, we got some real problems. That's messed up to me.”

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: After Valerie Bertinelli Food Network comments, Rachael Ray weighs in