Rachael Ray is not God. Or Jesus. Or Moses. Or Chad Michael Murray.
But you'd think that's who visited the store I work at when she came in for a book signing this weekend.
Now, I have nothing against Rachael Ray. While she doesn't deserve to be considered on the same level as famous chefs like Jacques Pepin and even Mario Batali, she's not trying to be. She's not pretending to be anything else than what she is: an experienced gourmet food buyer and manager who developed a catchy gimmick, which is helping people make (somewhat) healthy meals with easily accesible ingredients in a reasonable amount of time. Hence, the title of her first Food Network show and first cookbook: 30 Minute Meals.
Since then, she's become a media princess edging her way towards the thrones of queens Oprah and Martha: 11 best-selling cookboks, three more shows on the Food Network, a new magazine (Every Day with Rachael Ray) and now a new talk show debuting in 2006. Basically, she's taking over the world.
Since I started working at this cooking emporium for the holidays (no, it's not Williams-Sonoma), I was surprised to learn that the entire staff was required to work due to Rachael Ray coming in to promote her latest book, 365: No Repeats. Since I still hadn't tried a single recipe from my copy of Miss Ray's Cooking 'Round the Clock, I decided to mind my tight budget this season and skip buying a copy.
The crowd was lined up outside for hours in twenty-degree weather (due more to a massive lack of organization than lack of space), and the line inside snaked around the entire store. Children and the elderly were bumped up to the front. Security guards directed the crowds of eager people, some of whom had driven in from Detroit. "When will she be here?" "Where do I pick up my book?" "Where does the line start?" "Do I seriously have to wait outside?" "Sir, is there any way you can move these people up so I don't have to wait outside?"
Employees were yelling across the store and running in and out of offices and stockrooms. We had sold through our entire stock of books and were turning away people who thought they could show up five minutes before the event and pick up ten copies for their friends. Their reactions ranged from sad to frustrated to pissed to undeservedly entitled. "I'm sure you can find one more copy for me." No, ma'am. I can't. When one woman found out we had no more books to sell, she called my manager a c---. Ah, leave it to potential brush-ups with celebrity to bring out the best in people.