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Rachael Ray beguiles crowd at local benefit show

Celebrity chef and talk show host Rachael Ray instructs Natalie DiStefano of Ballston Spa how to prepare Chicken Cordon Bleu during her annual benefit show at Lake George High School, Ray’s alma mater. Held Thursday April 12 in the school auditorium, it was the first time in the show’s history that an audience member was invited onstage to help concoct an entree.

Celebrity chef and talk show host Rachael Ray instructs Natalie DiStefano of Ballston Spa how to prepare Chicken Cordon Bleu during her annual benefit show at Lake George High School, Ray’s alma mater. Held Thursday April 12 in the school auditorium, it was the first time in the show’s history that an audience member was invited onstage to help concoct an entree. Photo by Thom Randall.

— Peppering her presentation with insights into her celebrity life and remarks about her love for her Lake George upbringing, megastar chef and television talk show host Rachael Ray charmed her audience Thursday April 12 at Lake George High School.

The event was Rachael Ray’s 10th annual show for her alma mater, to raise money on behalf of the school alumni association for scholarships as well as computers, equipment and other school enhancements.

Before the show, she told Adirondack Journal reporter Katherine Clark how she was surprised that year after year, the demand for tickets for her Lake George appearances remained strong — that people would actually pay to see her in person again and again.

She also talked of her appreciation for her hometown in Lake George and beauty of the lower Adirondacks — and how it kept bringing her back to her hideaway vacation home in Lake Luzerne — more than ever in recent years.

Her Luzerne home provided a welcome respite, she said, from the grind of taping more than 1,000 television episodes per year for the five shows she hosts, either daily or weekly, she said.

“The more I travel and the older I get — like the Wizard of Oz says — ‘There’s no place like home.’”

Hometown Rachael Ray fans Kari Badger of Fort Edward and Kathy Akler of Queensbury, who had center-section second-row seats, said they've been fans of Rachael Ray since she appeared on Albany television WRGB-6’s “30-minute meals” segments and in local Price Chopper commercials.

The two laughed about how in one early show, she set off the studio’s smoke alarm and created havoc.

“She’s come a long way since,” Badger quipped.

While Badger and Akler were veteran fans attending the Lake George show, newlywed Rita Dejnozka of Saratoga County was seeing Rachael Ray in person for the first time. She said that Rachael Ray might as well be her secret accomplice in her kitchen.

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