Workaholic Rachael Ray may not be big on vacations, but she’ll make an exception and come on down for the South Beach Wine & Food Fest. On Friday night, the celebrity chef, 47, will host the always raucous Amstel Light Burger Bash for the 10th time. The energetic TV personality may even get to sneak in a little bit of down time — but don’t count on it.
How do you like visiting South Florida?
You know, it’s funny. When I was a little kid I had croup, and it was hard for me to breathe, especially in moist, hot places, which I used to avoid. Only [festival founder] Lee Schrager and a few of my friends helped me eventually embrace the Florida I know and love. Miami’s just like a freestyle mashup, a cool party with a great DJ and it puts me in such a good mood. .I’m a little brokenhearted that Escopazzo closed so I gotta find a new haunt.
What kind of burgers do you think you’ll be seeing this year?
Burgers are always on trend, but they’re evolving at the same time. Some have gotten wildly complex and over the top, with all kinds of crazy ingredients. I’ve seen chefs using luxury items like foie gras and caviar, that kind of vibe. Then there are traditionalists like Shake Shack. Lately all these vegans are rethinking their definition of a burger. In New York City, I just saw one where they made bacon out of shiitake mushrooms. Brilliant.
What do you think we love about burgers so much?
The bun, which is such a friendly vehicle. It says fun, it says eat it with your hands. It’s like the bread is giving the food a hug. What I love is all the world’s chefs, no matter their background, can put their talents into a burger.
You are a Food Network personality. You have cookbooks, a daytime talk show, a magazine, a pet food line and countless other projects. Eternal question: How do you do it all?
I don’t like to use the word ‘balance.’ There’s no such thing — I think it’s a bunch of B.S. I don’t look for balance, and I don’t care for it. I was raised by hard workers. My grandpa put in 18 hour days as a stone mason. My mom was the first of 10 kids. She’s a tiny woman, but definitely be afraid. Don’t piss her off! She worked like an animal running restaurants for decades then came home, and we cooked together.
You seem to be the Energizer Bunny personified.
I’m not a happy person unless I have a lot of physical and mental stuff to do. I like the feeling of a good, long day. On my days off, all I do is cook and clean and write and exercise. I have to exhaust myself or else I don’t sleep. I take showers, not baths. I’m always going, going, going. The most miserable I am is when I have to be in a quiet place. I left my own honeymoon early! My husband [musician John Cusimano] and I were in Africa. I read a dozen books, took 500 pictures of everything, wrote in journals and I was like, I can’t take it. I gotta go home.