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The Endless Energy Of Rachael Ray

Even though Rachael Ray has her own magazine, 16 books, too many Food Network shows to mention and her own syndicated talk show, which carries her name, Ray says she doesn't see herself as anything special.

"I don't think I'm amazing at all," she told The Early Show co-anchor Julie Chen. "I think I'm actually the opposite of that. I'm extremely average. And that's why people enjoy watching, 'cause they can totally see that they're like, 'Well, if she could do it, heck, I could certainly do that.' "

Working with the live studio audience at "Rachel Ray" is like being in a big family, she said.

"I feel so lucky to be working with a live studio audience every day 'cause you get to see people and hug 'em and shake their hands," she said. "And it is so nice to look out and see grandmoms and grandkids and firemen and cops and college kids."

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Ray is seemingly on the go 24 hours a day. In fact, on the set of her new show, the audience is on a giant lazy Susan, just to keep up with her. She said she tries, and often fails, to get at least five hours of sleep a night and in her rare down time she says she likes to cook and run errands.

"I love the feeling of, you know, being in my sweats and my sneaks and running a ton of errands," she said. "I love that."

It's all part of a work ethic Ray says she learned from her mother while growing up in upstate New York.

"She worked 100 hours a week all of her life and my grandfather would work, you know, a 12-hour day and come home and tend gardens in the middle of the night to feed the kids," Ray said. "So, hard work feels good. And, you know, I like it and it's the way I was raised."

Ray got her start at a gourmet market in Albany when she stepped in to teach a cooking class

"We wanted the local chef to come in and teach it," she said. "They wanted too much money. My boss said, 'Eh, you teach it. Your food's great.' I said, 'I'm not a chef.' 'Eh, who cares?' And I mean, that class, '30 Minute Meals,' became all this other stuff."

Soon, "30 Minute Meals" became a segment on the local news and later a show on the Food Network, a place she's not entirely certain she really belongs.

"I'm not a chef," Ray said. "I have no right to be running the production kitchen, let alone teaching a cooking class, let alone have a cook book or — or TV show about cooking. I mean, so it really was an accident, a happy accident that turned into all these other things. They snowballed."

With her new talk show, Ray has gone beyond the kitchen. There's still plenty of cooking, but there's also crafts, make-up tips and fashion. Never the expert, she'll tell you, Rachael turns over much of the advice to her own audience.

"It's so much fun to see people get to be their own TV stars, you know," Ray said. "I mean, we put so many people on the air with the solutions instead of bringing in experts, you know. A few friendly experts come in, too, but it's great to really see people become their own little rock stars, you know."

And like just about everything she touches, the show seems to have the recipe for success. When it began in September, it became the most successful daytime debut since "Dr. Phil." Of course not everyone's a fan, but that's fine with Ray.

"There's literally whole Web sites devoted to 'Rachael Ray sucks,' " she said. "And I mean, a lot of people really get ticked off with somebody who's not skilled, or holds a degree in this stuff, to be on, on a channel like Food Network. 'What is she doing there?' You know, and you definitely do get that."

Ray said she stays grounded with a great piece of advice given to her by her mother.

"Be yourself, be true to yourself, don't try and be all things to all people," she said. "Why would you wanna be?"

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