Rachael Ray turned 50 last year, and she celebrated in a truly Rachael Ray kind of way: By writing a cookbook with vignettes from her life.
Ray has been a prolific cookbook writer and TV host since her debut on the Food Network in the early 2000s. She's hosted travel shows and cooking shows and, since 2006, a daily talk show. She founded a dog food company, a line of cookware and a non-profit. She has lobbied for school lunch and, in 2008, started an annual South by Southwest party that continues to thrive at Stubb's.
That's a lot of life to pack into a memoir, so rather than writing a traditional recap of her life, Ray decided to tell this lifelong adventure through smaller stories and recipes in her new book, "Rachael Ray 50: Memories and Meals from a Sweet and Savory Life: A Cookbook" (Ballantine Books, $32).
To promote the book, she's embarking on yet another first: A virtual restaurant.
In partnership with Uber Eats, Ray's "restaurant" doesn't have a brick-and-mortar location, but customers can order dishes, most of which are featured in the cookbook, that are delivered through the meal delivery company. Austin is one of 13 cities where this virtual restaurant will be open, starting Thursday through the end of December. Menu items including buffalo chicken chili, fettuccine alla vodka, tahini caesar salad, garlic ricotta cauliflower mash and a fried chicken sandwich.
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You can browse the full menu and order food through the Uber Eats app. Other cities where you'll find the virtual restaurant are New York City, Los Angeles, Baltimore, Dallas, Houston, Minneapolis, Portland, Seattle, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Chattanooga and and Toronto.
Ray is embarking on a book tour that will swing through Austin on Nov. 6, where I'll interview her on stage at the Central Presbyterian Church, 200 E. Eighth St., at 7 p.m. Tickets to this event ($32) are still available through bookpeople.com.
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