Believe it or not, Rachael Ray has a tiny kitchen.
"When I'm in my apartment in New York City, I have two tiny cupboards and very little cabinet space so I have to be clever," she says before offering some on-point tips for cooking efficiently in quintessential Manhattan homes, a bit of knowledge that comes in handy considering Ray's recent collaboration with Home Chef, the meal kit and food delivery company.
Her first piece of advice: focus on your go-tos. "Specifically tailor your pantry and the stuff you invest in on what you use all the time," she says. "If there is a silverware drawer, for example, it doesn't mean you can't stock it with spices."
On that note: don't buy all the gadgets you see, she mentions, and think of what and how you cook before you spend money on anything.
Ray also sings the praises of open shelving, going as far as suggesting to rip off part of an apartment's set up and trade it in for an open shelf where you "can fit a lot more stuff."
On her favorite restaurants in NYC
"Via Carota and the bar across the street, [Bar Pisellino], which makes fabulous martinis and negronis," Ray says enthusiastically when asked about her favorite Italian joints, specifically mentioning the latter's prepared cocktails boxed set.
But Ray is also a fan of Mexican cuisine—and she clearly knows where to get some excellent fare around town, calling out Oxomoco in Brooklyn and Casa Enrique in Long Island City, both restaurants with Michelin stars.
Lest you think her not up to par with the city's latest openings, think again: Ray is quick to mention the relatively new Tin Building as one of her favorites as well.
On her go-to NYC spots to shop for ingredients
Although, during the pandemic when she was staying in upstate New York, Ray became a self-described “big online shopper,” she does admit that one of the reasons why she chose to live in the East Village was “its proximity to the Strand bookstore and the Union Square Green Market,” where she shops for ingredients.
But Ray also spends time in Chelsea to buy seafood at Lobster Place ("I know they care about sustainability"), scores "beautifully sourced meats and poultry" at Dickson's Farmstand Meats and Italian products at Buon'Italia—where she discovered waterfall-shaped pasta. "It basically looks like a spork," says Ray. "I bring it to Italy all the time and they say, 'what cut is this?'"
On what makes NYC a culinary gem
"What I always appreciated about New York is that it represents the entire world," says Ray. "You can eat the world, every single cuisine there is, in high-low. Especially these days, with the country being so separated and immigration [being an issue], being able to eat high-low is a gift. It is a gift from all the people that came here and put their soul into the food business, which is a very difficult and labor-intensive one."
The chef is also adamant about exulting the praises of other American cities like St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Detroit.
"What I'm thrilled about is that more of the country is more like New York," she says. " I just said to my husband the other day that we have to go spend time in St. Louis because I haven't been there in so long and the food scene is off the hook!"