Rachael Ray helps to put a 'Live' twist on Thanksgiving

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Ever wanted to ask Rachael Ray her recommendation for how long to cook a Thanksgiving turkey?

Or Bobby Flay his recipe for the perfect gravy or stuffing?

Well, here's your chance.

Food Network goes hugely interactive Sunday, Nov. 20, with the two-hour special "Thanksgiving Live." Alton Brown will host Ray, Flay, Ted Allen, Sunny Anderson, Anne Burrell, Melissa d'Arabian and Alex Guarnaschelli as viewers are invited to send holiday meal questions via Twitter, Facebook and Skype. (For the West Coast, the program will be recorded.)

"It's everybody's favorite holiday," Ray reasons of doing a live Thanksgiving-oriented session. "It's all about food and family, not about how many gifts you give or get. It's been a long time since I've been part of a Thanksgiving special for Food Network, and it's fun to be back in the mix."

Maximizing the interactive nature of "Thanksgiving Live," questions also will be taken for the celebrity chefs in advance at www.facebook.com/foodnetwork and at www.twitter.com/foodnetwork with the hashtag FNThanksgiving.

"I think it's really exciting," Ray says of involving social media to such a degree. "We do that on our show ('Rachael Ray'). It's really fun to be talking to your viewers while you're cooking and in the moment. I think it's a great concept."

Ray admits she "fought" such cyber-avenues of communication "for a long time, because I'm not a big techie. I just use my computer for typing my recipes, but with Twitter, I'm getting the love. I can tell people what I'm making for dinner and who's on the show, or what my favorite restaurant is when I'm traveling. It's really powerful ... and very cool."

Even if Ray has thoughts about what she'd like to do going into "Thanksgiving Live," she notes, "I always take feedback wherever it comes from, whether it's at a book signing or through email to the show, and I let that guide my content overall. If everybody's into comfort food, I'll do a lot of that. I look at that as a general barometer.

"I wrote my recipes for Thanksgiving a while ago," Ray adds, "and it's actually very boring. I make exactly the same meal every year." Among those who likely have no complaints: Ray's mother and other relatives with whom she always spends the holiday.

While she enjoys being with other Food Network personalities, Ray reports that happens frequently anyway. "So many of them come on our show all the time, I see many of them regardless. I live close to Bobby, and we go over to each other's houses. I don't get to see a lot of Alton, maybe a couple of times a year at speaking engagements, but it'll be nice to see him."

Ray also is getting ready to square off against Guy Fieri in the Jan. 1 premiere of the Food Network series "Rachel vs. Guy Celebrity Cook-Off." On her horizon as well are a relaunch of her magazine "Every Day With Rachael Ray" and the 1,000th episode of the syndicated, Daytime Emmy-winning "Rachael Ray" early in 2012.

Once all the food from her own Thanksgiving has been digested, Ray will hold to another of her seasonal traditions by getting a jump on the next big holiday. "I tape until just before Christmas," she says, "so I start decorating. All the trees go up on Thanksgiving weekend."

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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