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Seattle Times food writer Nancy Leson serves up the best info and tips on Northwest food, cooking, dining and restaurants.

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August 11, 2008 8:26 AM

This wild boar ragu is . . .Hey! Isn't that Rachael Ray?

Posted by Nancy Leson

Karen Wood wrote, wondering:

"After reading your blog about celebrity sightings, inquiring minds want to know why Rachael Ray was at Volterra last week. I was there for dinner, and just as my friend and I were getting up to leave, Rachael Ray walked in with a crew of people and cameras. We didn't stay to find out, but are curious what they were filiming and too embarassed to call the restaurant since we didn't ask that night."

Ka-REN! You missed the fun part by not lingering over a limoncello:

Volterra's Michelle Quisenberry was (surprise!) more than happy to divulge the details. She says Rach and her handsome husband John Cusimano were here to film an upcoming episode of "Rachael's Travels," set to run before the end of the year on the Food Network. Volterra had already been featured on her CBS talk show in January 2007, and America's Ray of sunshine liked the restaurant so well she called it her Seattle "favorite." You can watch her swooning over chef Don Curtiss's wild boar with gorgonzola sauce in this video clip.

Michelle, who's spent a fair time lately rubbing elbows with the rich and famous, also sent along this photo of Rach and John, posing outside Volterra with Michelle and Don. Coinkydinkly, both couples were married in Tuscany, so they had plenty to talk about other than Volterra's Fennel Salt and Rachael Ray's E.V.O.O.:

It's a shame you didn't hang out a little longer, Karen. After filming, the popular multimedia star treated her crew to dinner at the restaurant, where they had a chance to relax over food and drink. Rachael was exceedingly sweet to patrons who approached her, says Michelle, graciously posing for photos with some of them.

Which makes me feel a little badly about giving Rach the business in this column for posing on a box of Ritz, among umpteen other products:

For the record: I've since been pleased to note that my box o' Ritz -- now being relentlessly promoted by NBC throughout the televised Olympics -- is presently devoid of Rachael Ray's pretty punim:

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Posted by Eric

8:58 AM, Aug 11, 2008

The woman flogs dog food sold at Wal-Mart. Talk about a shark that has been well and thoroughly jumped.

Posted by AVID

10:47 AM, Aug 11, 2008

I don't know what that means Eric, but I like Rachel Ray. She is informative, entertaining, and cute. Food professionals are people you know. Her show and books are fine by me. Why not leave her alone with what looks like a shallow, cruel comment by you. ?

Wish I had gotten her autograph. Plus she has an enchanting little laugh which I'd have liked to have experienced in person.

Posted by Simonian

11:10 AM, Aug 11, 2008

Jumping the shark just means having gone so far from where you started that it's ridiculous. (Taken from an episode of Happy Days where Fonzie jumps over a shark tank on his motorcycle.) As applied here, the implication is that if Ms. Ray is endorsing dog food, she's commercialized herself too much to be a particularly respected authority on food for people. And though I have never been a fan of hers,and am trying to resist the urge to go snarky, I'd just like to ask how long does it take to actually say the words 'extra virgin olive oil?' Sheesh.

Posted by AVID

11:36 AM, Aug 11, 2008

Simonian- You show considerable retraint for someone who prefers Happy Days over RR's cooking shows. Notwithstanding that, Eric... if celebrities want to be paid for commercial endorsements, so what? Does Paul Newman's pasta sauce make him target for thesbians to ridicule? George Foreman shouldn't promote items outside the boxing ring? Have you heard of Tiger Woods (cars) ? Michael Jordan (cereal) ? Hannah Montana perhaps (back to school stuff)? (PS *my* dog loves that Newmans sauce...)

Posted by donewithAVID

12:04 PM, Aug 11, 2008

Bitter much, AVID?

First off, I have a hard time finding anyone who doesn't know what "jumping the shark" means and no, I'm not a Happy Days fan (I was born AFTER it went off the air).

Second, Paul Newmans' face is on his products because they support his charity. If you did a little homework, you'd find out that he donates 100% of his proceeds.

People are entitled to their opinion. I liked Ms. Ray just fine when she had her two small shows on FN. Now I can't turn around without seeing her face and I'm annoyed by it. You should probably get over yourself.

Posted by Busy Mom

12:36 PM, Aug 11, 2008

As a working mom, I find RR's shows a godsend. Her recipes are quick, healthy, and my kids like them. If you follow her show's, she always talks about her dog and she even has recipes for homemade dog treats and dog food. I guess the commercial dog food line is an offshoot of her homemade version. If it's good quality, why not? I too wish I would've had the chance to meet her at Volterra. I love that place.

Posted by still AVID

12:52 PM, Aug 11, 2008

Hey look at this, nameless 20-something attacker... Rachel's dog food is for charity too !
Just like Paul Newman. (and thanks. I am over myself now.)

(PS. Shame on Sheryl Crow for endorsing SELF magazine. She was really a highly respected pop-singer until she lowered herself to shamelessly promoting women's health)

Posted by Erics

2:57 PM, Aug 11, 2008

I don't think the problem is that a celebrity flogs dog food - Dick VanPatten has his own line, for example. The problem comes when your endorsements are a little iffy relative to your core business. For example, I don't think Paul Newman is marketed as culinary genius; he is a random Hollywood celebrity who flogs product for charity. George can sell mufflers and grills all day long - it doesn't diminish him as a boxer. Selling feminine hygiene, products, however, would be a stretch.

I think it diminishes her already slim culinary credibility when she sells food for species that lick themselves and drink from the toilet, just three aisles over from her "beef flavored" stock (that doesn't have enough beef to qualify as beef stock under USDA guidelines).

I admit, she's less manic on the 30 Minute Meals show than she used to be, but I think I'll pass on ever watching an entire show she's on.

(ps, I showed remarkable restraint by not referring to her in a manner that would be offensive towards those with learning disabilities, even though it's how she's *frequently* referred to by many people who are serious about food. )

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