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$40 Dollar a Day show

Does anybody know how they make shows like this? I know they make it look like Rachel Ray just waltzes in and sits down but I know it can't work like that. Do they shut down the entire restaurant while they film? Are the other people in the restaurant or bar just plants?

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  1. i've worked in restaurants that often had tv crews in them. it's a royal p-i-t-a because no, we didn't shut down. much coordinating goes into pre-taping. but lighting and long cables are all over the place and you're open for regular service. a segment that airs for a few minutes may take several hours to shoot.

    guests may or may not be willing to sign the release and may walk out rather than dine. but most are thrilled to think they may be on tv.

    1. I was at the taping for the Saratoga Springs one. We were all plants. We were invited by the chef/owner to come up for it. He knew about it at least a month in advance. I don't know if that's always the case, but it was for this place.

      Personally, I don't like the show. In the ones I've seen, rather than find good cheap holes in the wall or street food, she goes to a moderately upscale place, and orders the cheapest thing. Or so it seems, but I've only watched it a couple of times.

      6 Replies
      1. re: cheesemonger

        Thanks for both of your insights into this! No, not exactly my favorite show either but I know we aren't supposed to pick on tv show hosts around here. I just LOVE Rachel Ray (ahem.) Anyway, the tips she leaves the wait staff do make me laugh. Hopefully the publicity the restaurant gets makes up for all the trouble.

        1. re: Velma

          I've been wondering if there's a viable way to complain about her crappy tipping! Drives me up a wall!

          1. re: ctscorp

            I'm fairly certain that she tips better than what they show (which is exacly 15%), and that her meals are often free. They just keep things cheap so she sticks to that budget.

            I was in Asheville recently and heard a couple locals recommend Tupelo Honey saying "That's where Rachael Ray eats when she's in town." The tourists went there immediately and when we drove by, there was a line down the sidewalk.

            1. re: mojoeater

              I figured she probably threw the staff some extra cash, but what frustrates me is the impression she makes... people watch and think it's okay to tip 75 cents just because your meal was $4.99. (I mean, that's 15 percent, right?) Especially as she's such a heroine to so many people.

              1. re: mojoeater

                Re: the tips, she doesn't. My mom's friend waited on her on an episode and she said Rachel and the whole crew ate and the tip was crappy.

            2. re: Velma

              I know if I owned a restaurant, Rachel would be welcome anytime of the day or night. I've been to several of her recs and enjoyed them all.

          2. I read somewhere that it actually takes 2-3 days of going into restaurants and then they edit it down to 3 restaurants and a snack or dessert. No, they do not empty the restaurant for her. She goes in at off hours sometimes so the restaurant looks emptier. Also she picks emptier rooms if there are any. Also, she doesn't finish the dishes - she takes a bite or two and then gives the rest to her crew. If she doesn't like the food at all, she mainly talks about the decor to make it sound wonderful. She doesn't want to get places in trouble if their food is awful. She tries to be as nice as possible. That is what I was told by one of the producers that worked with her on several shows.

            3 Replies
            1. re: RisaG

              I have always wondered about that show. I know it had to be edited quite a bit because not everything can be as perfect as she makes it out to be. If anyone is interested Mad TV did a sketch of her show that pokes fun at her lousy tipping and heavy drinking. Its on YouTube.

              1. re: LARaven

                Heavy drinking? They never show her having more than one or two drinks. If that's heavy drinking, I'm in trouble!

                1. re: mojoeater

                  well not "heavy" but she does usually have a drink or two in every show so they exaggerated on that part.

            2. in an interview a few years ago, anthony bourdain refers to $40 a day as "happy horseshit". hehehehe.

              5 Replies
              1. re: celfie

                Bourdain has the best food and travel show today. Moreover, if anyone should know "happy horseshit" when they see it , it would be him. Who could forget Tony in Namibia eating the “worst meal of [his] life,” as he put it. "Ashes, dirt and crap in every bite" of his meal of warthog rectum. Also, I bet he spends far more than $40 a day for his meals. His medical bills alone from the Namibia show continued for weeks.....

                1. re: JeetJet

                  I, too, love Bourdain's show. But it isn't exactly a guide I can or would follow. I will probably never visit most of the places he features, whereas RR, Giada, Guy and even Alton's travels are mostly within the US (and Europe).

                  1. re: mojoeater

                    bourdain is not about going to the places he goes to - his shows are about seeking out the real deal instead of the glossy, safe hollywood versions of 'place'. he's about being adventurous and not being scared. i am amazed that people just want to go to places theyve seen on tv! TV IS NOT REAL!

                    1. re: celfie

                      Of course it's not real. And going somewhere just becasue you saw it on TV is silly. But if you are going to a place AND it has been featured on some show or another, you can get some ideas. A combination of TV and internet (like this site) can provide a wealth of options and opportunities.

                  2. re: JeetJet

                    I bet he spends far less than $40 a day. Alcohol not included. He's always getting street food or visiting a little mom and pop place that's so far off the beaten path the only people who know about it are the local locals.


                2. Worst show ever. I'll give you the synopsis of every episode.

                  Rachel Ray walks into restaurant wearing horrible outfit that shows up her belly and hides her boobs...generally with some sort of giant belt buckle, making her look more like a man than a woman. She orders "house specialty" very gleefully.
                  RR gets meal. Takes bite. Ponders bite. Responds with bright, wide eyes and says something like "MMMmm That is delicious. I can really taste the <insert special ingredient here>"

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: eternalX

                    I agree the show is bad. I would edit your "Takes bite. Ponders bite." It is more like, Ray holds fork upside-down in the wrong hand to show she is cool, takes bite, slowly turns nose up and away from the Camera lens, ponders bite while slowly chewing and with a studied expression on her face -- eyes slightly closing. then her eyes open wide....

                    I will add, however, that I have followed her tracks in several cities and I have been happy with the food most of the time.

                    1. re: JeetJet

                      What about her orgasmic facial expressions. It's sickening. She can't possibly love everything as much as she seems to.


                      1. re: Davwud

                        Even the theme music and lyrics are happy horseshit.

                    2. re: eternalX

                      don't forget how she tries to endear herself to the locals and seems to creep them out everytime - the absolute worst example of this was the belgium $40 a day where she is sitting at a communal table with some americans who keep their back to her as she talks

                    3. The thing that bugs me about the show is that $40 a day for one person is not a challenge, really. At first I thought it would be for two people and thought that would be interesting. But, $40 is pretty easy if you're eating alone. As someone has noted, though, she never goes for street food or a bowl of pho or some good tacos or any other very filling, very tasty dish that would cost about $5 for lunch.

                      I'd also be pressed to eat the amount they show her eating on the show.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: ccbweb

                        Her show is definitely not for 'Hounds looking for street food. I would say it's for the average female who wants clean, POPULAR sit-down dining three meals a day. Its not the way I travel, but I admit to checking the FN website when going to a new city. Then I compare their recommendations with Chowhound. Sometimes the same places are highlighted on both.

                        1. re: mojoeater

                          I wonder if anyone has ever attempted having her duplicate meal & having it actually come out to 40 bucks.

                          1. re: sugarbuzz

                            It probably wouldn't work. There was a camera error in one of the episodes. The camera shows the price at 5.95 (or something like this). When the "bill" appears the price was magically listed as $5.45. Her final "bill" total was $39.70. What a surprise.
                            Even if there was no price changing, the inflation in food proces would drive most of the bills over $40.00, anyway.

                            1. re: JudgeMaven

                              I've been to several of her recommendations. They were mostly disappointing with the exception of the Pancake House in Amsterdam.

                      2. My take on this show is that the restaurants she "eats" at are paying for the advertising.
                        I'm thinking she's akin to a paid shill. Don't beat me - it's JMO.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Gio

                          i agree - i especially love how irrelevant the establishments she visits are to the city she is in. meatloaf in santa fe? cmon

                          1. re: celfie

                            That's always struck me too. At least, when I used to watch it. Mrs. Sippi still watches it sometimes but she's tired of her shtick too.


                        2. What I hate about this show is she wastes so much of her $40 budget on breakfast, and skimps on the dinner. $11+ for breakfast, what a waste.

                          When I am on vacation, I dont eat breakfast, I am typically rolling out of bed to get to the beach, and then eat a decent/quick lunch, get some drinks, and then eat an expensive dinner.

                          15 Replies
                          1. re: swsidejim

                            First of all, she does none of the research on the restaurants, she has got researchers. I don't know where her researchers go for their info but chances are it is mostly from the Chamber of Commerce literature. As most have said here, she never ever goes to a real hole in the wall, chances are they are the local version of Applebee/Houlihans/TGIF/Ruby Tuesdays. OK< maybe that was a little harsh but they aren't exactly adventurous.

                            I know that if they had bothered to ask the local food critics, many of them are ChowHounds, they would have pointed them to some really interesting places. I think they just get in contact with the restaurants that fit their demographics and then shop for the best freebies.

                            And yes, I hate the orgasmic look she gives the camera when ever she takes a bite too.

                            1. re: Phaedrus

                              I too, hate that she spends so much on breakfast when coffee and a breakfast sandwich or bagel would be fine. I also hate that she doesn't seem to frequent places that serve dishes that are indigenous to the area.Not only are these places usually reasonable it adds to the whole experience of the trip.
                              I also can't stand that she orders diet drinks......they are so bad for the body. AND I could have done without seeing her in a swimsuit trying to water ski on Lake George!! Last straw for me!!!
                              We love to watch Mark DeCarlo on Travel channel. Not quite the same venue but good info and VERY funny.

                              1. re: FoodisArt

                                Mark DeCarlo's show is HILARIOUS. I love his innuendoes that often go over the heads of the people he's talking with.

                                1. re: amandaqtpie

                                  I third Mark DeCarlo! Love those uncomfortable silent moments on the show or those awkward laughter when the people he's with don't really know what they should say or do.

                                  1. re: gloriousfood

                                    I love this show! He is hilarious, and has his own inside jokes going on all the time. Doesn't appear to be phoney at all.

                                2. re: FoodisArt

                                  "hate that she spends so much on breakfast when coffee and a breakfast sandwich or bagel would be fine"

                                  Though granted it would be even less interesting if everyday she just ordered a bagel with cream cheese. It is a food show after all...

                                  1. re: eternalX

                                    But that bagel would be "YUMM-O", especially after she drenches it in EVOO!!
                                    Cackle, cackle, cackle....

                                    1. re: Phaedrus

                                      Ming Tsai the other day called it "evu" like..."moo."

                                      My wife said "doesn't anyone just call things by their name anymore?"

                                      In my world breakfast=coffee. So the $40 a day thing starts getting real real easy.

                                      When she did the Seattle show she didn't even make it to the International District where you'd have to work very hard to spend $40 a day. She didn't hae any dim sum, no pho, no Thai, no Vietnamese....nada that is spectacularly good and special in Seattle. She got tacos for lunch (at a fairly fun and decent place....but tacos in the Pacific Northwest -as you can tell from the relevant board on this site- aren't blowing anyone's skirt up. Well, except her's from the reaction of course).

                                      When the Seattle thing popped up my wife and I (who have lived there) said "well, this'll be easy...coffee, late morning dim sum snack, pho for lunch and you'll still have $30 to spend on some fabulous fish for dinner, raw if you like it that way." Ah well.

                                      1. re: ccbweb

                                        The thing is that we aren't the target audience for Food Network. They are focused on middle American housewives who are a much bigger market segment than the urban foodie crowd. Sure, they used to cater to us with Mario and Anthony Bourdain, but the advertisers demand they go with the wide-eyed appeal of people like Rachel Ray eating blueberry pancakes at a localized IHOP and as you say, tacos in the PNW.

                                        1. re: eternalX

                                          They're the ones who'll end up buying all the corn based products and otherwise processed foods. Not the discerning foodie.


                                          1. re: eternalX

                                            I agree with you. I guess I figure that they could pick things that would appeal and still be at least marginally regional. IE, stick to fish and mushrooms and things that are better in the PNW than elsewhere.

                                            Alas, though, you're right and that explains why I watch so little foodtv.

                                            1. re: eternalX

                                              i guess the appropriate question would be "what came first, stupid people or tv". it would be nice if food tv chose to challenge people instead of pandering to the thoughtless

                                            2. re: ccbweb

                                              Also, in Seattle she didn't visit Victrola coffee on Capitol Hill, she went down the street to Cafe Ladro - which, in my opinion, isn't as tasty. Oh well - we can't win them all. At least she wasn't at a Starbucks.

                                              1. re: wino22

                                                Oh man...my (now) wife lived on Capitol Hill for 4 years...I love Victrola. I haven't found anything quite as cool in SF (there are places with coffee that can rival it, but no places with the coffee and the vibe). I will give her credit for always going to local places and skipping Starbucks even in the one town where she could have gotten away with it.

                                        2. re: FoodisArt

                                          I love Mark DeCarlo's show. However, years ago there was a commercial up here (GWN) that he was made to look like an idiot in. Mr. Yuppie with the cell phone trying to impress a beautiful blonde, yada, yada, yada. Anyway, I just can't help but see that same guy whenever I watch the show.


                                    2. Pretty funny when she was in Boston, I was dieing to see how she was going to do this since she was walking on Newbury Street. I'm on the edge of my seat waiting to see where she eats...........she cheated and jumped on the T and went over to Revere for a Kelly's Roast Beef for lunch. I laughed. Don't get me wrong - great sandwich - (and I do love Rachel and the show) but she cheated and didn't stay in Boston.