Q: Is it true you're a KISS fan? -PJ Hunkins, Waukesha, WI
A: YESSSSSSSS! We have KISS on vinyl. Nice! My nephew, Steven, is a huge fan too. He's 4!
Q: I love listening to music while I cook, especially Ray Charles. Who do you listen to when you cook at home? -Molly Zoodsma, Cedar Rapids, IA
A: I have eclectic tastes. It could be anything from John Coltrane to the Foo Fighters.
Q: Do you play a musical instrument? -Brianna Nicole Carda, Humboldt, IA
A: I wish. I'm studying the drums and I used to play one song on the piano—"Love Theme from St. Elmo's Fire." I stopped playing under penalty of strangulation from my listeners!
Q: Do you ever tune in to Food Network shows? -Wendell Brooks, Arlington, GA
A: I've seen everything and I'm friendly with everyone on air -- but I'm never home! When I am, I usually use the TV for catching up on the news and watching movies.
Q: Since you're already on television, would you ever consider acting? -Shayla Jones, Indianapolis
A: I think I would stink at acting. I'd keep cracking up -- I'm way too goofy!
Q: Besides cooking, what are some of your hobbies? -Vicki Dalton, Alto, GA
A: I love watching movies!
Q: What's Isaboo's favorite food? -Hope Lybeer, Suwanee, GA
A: Izzy won't eat unless she's truly hungry. But, like every good baby, she likes whatever her Mommy cooks for her.
Q: What has made you love the pit bull terrier breed so much? -Melissa Nabong, Sparks, NV
A: Two beautiful, sweet dogs, Boo and Isaboo.
Q: Do you support any animal rescue groups? -Emily Rowe, St. Petersburg, FL
A: Many: the ASPCA, North Shore Animal League America and various pit bull rescue organizations.
Q: What's the story behind the name of your first dog, Boo? -Erin Richardson, Washington, MI
A: I brought my girl Boo home on Halloween day!
Q: Do you ever dress up Isaboo? -Kathy Purcell, Norcross, GA
A: She doesn't need costumes -- she's too pretty! Actually, she just won't tolerate it. As soon as I get her dressed, she undresses and tries to eat the clothes. In the winter we put a coat on her. She doesn't seem to mind that, though, because she has short hair and it's cold outside!
Q: What was the first thing you did for your mom when you became famous? -Kristin Thompson, Montevallo, AL
A: I bought her a Mini Cooper.
Q: Do you and your siblings cook together? -Melanie Van Volkenburg, Harrington, DE
A: We hang out in the kitchen while my mother cooks. There's never much food left to take to the table!
Q: If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would that person be? -Debbie Mann, Macomb Township, MI
A: My grandfather, because he was the funniest, coolest guy I've ever met. He knew a lot about everything and I lost him young. I've got so many questions for him now. And I think he would really love my dog -- and my husband (in that order)! My husband's a lot like my grandfather, actually -- both great gardeners and good eaters with a great sense of humor. And both tough guys!
Q: When you and your mother spend time together, do you two speak Italian? -Presley Huble, Houston
A: No. She spoke Italian only as a small girl. I'm studying it now, two hours a week, but neither of us is fluent -- yet!
Q: I'm 11 years old, and I'm wondering if you have any brothers or sisters. Do they ever get on your nerves? -Gabriel, Los Banos, CA
A: I have a little brother and an older sister, and we get on each other's nerves a lot, but we all laugh and hug as loudly as we yell. When all is said and done, we love each other a lot!
Q: Have you ever traced your family tree? Are your ancestors from anywhere besides Italy? -Virginia Lafray, Rockford, IL
A: That's where the buck stops -- in Sicily!
Q: What are some of your pet peeves? My name is Rachael, too, and I hate when people spell it "Rachel." -Rachael Hoge, 14, Mercer, PA
A: Yes, people spell my name wrong all the time. However, lotsa people just call me Rach.
Q: I think it's really cute how you talk about getting ingredients "into the hot tub." Is there a backstory for this phrase? -Stacy Cannady, Portland, OR
A: Just that I'm a goofball!
Q: How do you come up with your "Rachaelisms"? -Anelie Wendling, Atlanta
A: I talk a lot. I let my mouth run!
Q: When you cook at home, do you talk like you do on your shows? -Alexandra Stone, Hurdle Mills, NC
A: I'm very quiet, actually: I'm trying to hear Law & Order!
Q: What's the weirdest thing somebody has ever asked you? -Bryan Muller, Fort Lauderdale, FL
A: I wouldn't know -- I'm pretty open to answering just about anything! Nothing sounds too weird to me.
Q: What was your first car? -Susan Cadley, Alpharetta, GA
A: I drove a used Ford pickup
Q: How do you get around New York City? -Donna Yackley, Salisbury, MD
A: I use an eco-friendly car service; I generally ride in a Toyota Prius. Go green!
Q: You've said that you didn't learn to drive until you were in your late 20s. What's your take on late drivers? -Lakita Stewart,, Washington, DC
A: We're appropriately afraid and cautious behind the wheel -- kids think they're immortal. By the time I learned to drive, I really had the fear of God in me.
Q: Do you really ride a Vespa? -Lauri Polunsky, Austin, TX
A: My husband drives a Vespa. I just go along for the ride. I'm too geeky and accident-prone to get behind the handles often.
Q: If you suddenly found yourself with an unexpected free afternoon, where would you go? -Kristen Chirhart, San Francisco
A: Two words: to bed! Zzzz.
Q: When you have an hour completely to yourself, what do you do? -Kristin Thompson, Montevallo, AL
A: Take a nap!
Q: Are you a morning person or a night person? -Charlotte Burzlaff, Elizabethtown, KY
A: I'm definitely a night person. My brain works better at night. That's when I write all of my cookbooks.
Q: What are your hours like on an average workday? -Robbin Nelson, Houston
A: I have no average day. I used to work in kitchens, doing 12 or more hours a day of physical labor, so today, eight to 12 hours of cooking, chatting or filming feels like a vacation. When I have a scheduled "day off," I spend several hours writing, then I clean until I crash from fatigue. I don't relax well. Even if I were unemployed, I'd be a hard worker.
Q: What are some of your favorite things to do besides cook? –Jesse Mara, Seattle
A: I like to sleep and watch movies. I'm very turtle-like.
Q: How do you do all your shows and still find time to relax? -Tami Wright, Brazil, IN
A: I don't! My life doesn't have a lot of balance, but I make the most of my time. I love cooking dinner every night, even though we might not eat until 10 p.m.
Q: When you're cooking at home, do you still toss salt over your shoulder? -Susan Madrak, Venice, FL
A: Yes! I'm a very superstitious girl -- with a very salty kitchen rug.
Q: Describe your worst kitchen catastrophe. -Lisa Mason, Elberta, AL
A: I tried to bake a cake for my mother's birthday -- it took me four hours. It was terrible, and I cried for three days.
Q: Have you ever dropped everything you were carrying from the fridge and cupboards to the counter? -Sarah DeYoung, Jamestown, NC
A: Not everything, no -- but that's not to say there hasn't been droppage over the years.
Q: How is your home decorated? -Connie Hainan, Stone Mountain, GA
A: My cabin is Italian country, and my apartment in the city is eclectic -- a mix of mid-century modern and Italian antiques.
Q: You seem to put hot sauce in almost everything! How much heat can you eat? -Sammy, Age 11, Burlington, Ontario, Canada
A: I could drink a bottle of Frank's RedHot -- gimme a straw!
Q: When you get sick, is there something you eat to feel better? -Ali Siminovsky, Whitestone, NY
A: Everything in the fridge. Food always comforts me.
Q: My family teases me because I drink orange juice with everything. Do you have a quirky food fetish? -Missy Herr, Quarryville, PA
A: I eat a ton of almonds, and I can never say no to cheese. And if there's an anchovy nearby, it doesn't have a chance!
Q: What is it about mayonnaise that creeps you out so much? -Angie Robitaille, Phenix City, AL
A: Definitely the consistency!
Q: What's the most disgusting food you've ever eaten? -Wade Penix, Dayton
A: Pickled lamb's tongue, and anything with gobs of mayonnaise.
Q: Is there any food you won't eat? -Kris Best,, Plainfield, CT
A: Yup. At my house, well, let's just say I hold the mayo! But since I try to make something for everyone, I still cook and write recipes with foods that aren't on my personal favorites list.
IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE
Q: What's the biggest chance you've ever taken? -Shad Mitchell, Milton, WV
A: I really don't take chances -- I just get up every day and go to work!
Q: Have you ever thought about opening your own restaurant? -George Weidamoyer, Conshohocken, PA
A: Maybe one day...
Q: What's your biggest regret? -Persephanie Engel, Chicago
A: I don't have any! Everything in life is part of who you are. If I had the time, though, I'd take up an instrument and speak more languages.
Q: If you weren't in the food industry, what would you choose as a career? -Chandra Williams, West Palm Beach, FL
A: I can't imagine my life in any other business—though I would love to be a Foo Fighters groupie!
Q: If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be? -Cathy Fries,, Glendale Heights, IL
A: Not a thing. My life is better than I ever could've imagined.
Q: What would you like to be doing 20 years from now? -Won Il Chang, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada
A: I don't plan. My life has come out better, so far, than I ever imagined! I just work hard and go with the flow.
Q: If you're from New York, how did you become a Boston Red Sox fan? -Juli Holden, Worcester, MA
A: Six words: Carlton Fisk. Nomar Garciaparra. Curt Schilling.
Q: I know you're a big Red Sox fan. How is Isaboo being raised, Red Sox or pinstripes? -Debra Friss, Hanford, CA
A: Isaboo's a Red Sox fan. The only baseball- or bat-shaped toys she has are Red Sox ones, so I guess John didn't care enough to get in there first! Isaboo hasn't been to a game yet, but I hope to take her to a Cape Cod Baseball League (capecodbaseball.org) game this summer.
Q: Did you ever play sports in high school? -Elena Martinez, Montclair, CA
A: Yes. I was a competitive cheerleader -- rough and tumble!
Q: How did you feel the very first time someone recognized you in public or asked for your autograph? -Kim Ridgeway, Lake Placid, FL
A: It wasn't a big deal, actually. People say they feel like we went to school together or that we're old neighbors.
Q: When you go grocery shopping, do you end up getting swarmed by fans? –Jennifer Boubette, Nevada, IA
A: I'm usually wearing sweatpants and no makeup, so no one notices me! Occasionally, people ask me where to find something in the store, or they ask about a recipe.
Q: Have you ever been starstruck? -Arnel Tingley, Bullhead City, AZ
A: I'm starstruck all the time. But it's fun to find out that celebrities are people like the rest of us.
Q: Who do you look up to in the food industry? -Melanie Green, Wharton, WV
A: My mom, who's been in the restaurant business for 40 years, is the number-one influence in my life. But I look up to a lot of people in the industry. Tops on my list is Mario Batali. My mom and Mario taught me the same lesson: Food is love.
Q: My daughters admire you very much. How do you feel about being a role model? -Lori Fagan, Ellwood City, PA
A: I love children -- I love being around them, and I'm happy if they like me. I don't consider myself a role model. That sounds a little heavy for me!
Q: Was there one moment when it really hit you that you'd become a star? -Lauren Baranowski, Roselle Park, NJ
A: Am I a star? Really? I don't think so. I'm a burger flipper and a Chatty Cathy!
Q: Would you be game to tell us your most embarrassing moment? -Kimberly Stahl, Indian River, MI
A: I've had too many to choose from -- many on air. I was in the studio elevator with Ted Danson and didn't recognize him. I get mystery tasters wrong on the daytime show: I called Brad Garrett Ray Romano! I did a whole show with my boots on the wrong feet. Oh, and I told Helen Mirren she had a nice rack.
Q: How on earth do you stay grounded? -Murlin Hall, Sylmar, CA
A: I work too hard to float away!
Q: How do you stay so fit when you're always surrounded by all that good food and wine? -Annette Reid, Overland Park, KS
A: I don't. I wear dark colors and buy jeans with stretch. Still, I do believe that if you eat well, you can eat more and still look not bad in those stretchy jeans. I also take a few minutes a day to do sit-ups, push-ups and some Jane Fonda butt-lifts!
NEW YORK CITY
Q: What are the greatest rewards of living in New York City? -Andrew Bykowski, Racine, WI
A: I love the exposure to so many different cultures, the quality of food and -- of course -- the shopping!
Q: If you had to choose a place to live in America (other than New York City), where would it be and why? -Heidi Schrader, Venice, FL
A: Austin, Texas. Like its slogan says, they know how to keep it weird there -- I fit right in! It's also home to one of my favorite musicians, Bob Schneider.
AS A KID
Q: When you were a kid, did you get in trouble for talking in class? -Taylor, Age 11, Okinawa, Japan
A: I don't think so. I went to a pretty laid-back school.
Q: I've heard you say that you were kicked out of the Girl Scouts. What were the circumstances of your termination? -Glenda Meyers, Cincinnati
A: I had three demerits: I made up dirty lyrics to a Girl Scouts song; I didn't wear my full uniform, just the hat and sash; and worst of all, a girl broke her arm ('nuff said). That was it for me!
Q: I'm 6 years old and I love to cook. Do you remember the first thing you ever cooked? How old were you? -Holly, Elizabethtown, IN
A: I was always in the kitchen with my family, even as a baby, and I helped out from the time I could hold a spoon. The first meal I made all by myself was lasagna roll-ups for my mom's birthday. I was 12.
Q: Did you ever go through a dorky phase, or were you always popular? -Sabrina Stone, Seale, AL
A: I think everyone goes through a dorky phase. I'm still very dorky and goofy in a lot of ways.
Q: Do you have an interest in antiques? -Marilyn Smith, Uniontown, PA
A: Not really -- I have a few nice pieces, but I find more bargains at used-furniture stores.
Q: Are you a spender or a saver? -Debbie Main, Macomb, MI
A: I've always been a spender -- I give it away as fast as I make it. Even when I was younger, if I made $5, I'd use half to buy my mother flowers. To me, money is a vehicle for making other people smile.
RANDOM RACH FACTS
Q: What's the one thing you wish everyone knew about you? -Susan Walker, Reno, NV
A: They know it all, pretty much. I blab!
Q: What's your astrological sign? -Jo-Ann Barnett, Toms River, NJ
A: I'm a Virgo -- a worrier! I was born on the 25th of August, so I think I have a little Leo in me, too.
Q: What do you always have in your purse? -Marti Fowler, Merryville, LA
A: Money, keys, my cell phone -- and a notebook to write down my recipes.
Q: How do you keep your energy level so high? -Jennifer Kupfer, Albany, NY
A: Caffeine. Way too much caffeine.