Strange Things About Rachael Ray's Marriage

Celebrity chef Rachael Ray and her husband, entertainment lawyer and The Cringe frontman John Cusimano, never hesitate to share how head-over-heels in love they are with each other. These two wed at an Italian castle in 2005 and renewed their vows there ten years later. But if you dig deeper into this fairy tale romance, you'll realize their relationship isn't as traditional as it appears.

For starters, not every meet-cute starts out with confusion about sexual orientation and some shared genetics, and not all lovers keep the flame alive with boozy nicknames and poems about whiskey. We'll fill you in on their intimate vacations (that include hundreds of friends) and their cooking adventures (Ray isn't the only one who knows her way around a kitchen). And what about all those oh-so-nasty battles with the tabloids and rumors about a swingers club and escorts? 

We've got the dirt on that, too. Here are some of the strangest things about this high-profile celebrity marriage.

They bonded over their height (or lack thereof)

Many couples initially bond over shared interests such as music, food, or movies, but Rachael Ray and John Cusimano bonded over something entirely different — their shared genetics. The genetics in question? Their height. The couple reportedly met at a mutual friend's birthday party, where they were the shortest guests. Ray, who stands 5 feet 1 inch tall, noticed that everyone at the party was rather tall, except for Cusimano, who is 5 feet 7 inches. 

"We walked directly across the room to each other," Ray told AOL in 2014, and that was that. "My husband and I have been together on the phone or in person every single day since the night we met." It's clear Ray is a big fan of her hubby; she added, "He's a lawyer, and he has a rock band." However, their meeting on that fateful day wasn't exactly love at first sight. More on that in a moment.

Rachael Ray thought John Cusimano was gay and has a pet name for him

John Cusimano and Rachael Ray reportedly hit it off immediately, but she didn't think she had a shot. Funnily enough, the roadblock was based on food. While chatting, Cusimano recounted a tilapia dish he'd made (with a tomatillo-jalapeño-cilantro reduction worthy of Ray herself) — and the fancy dish gave Ray the wrong idea. "I assumed that if you're not a chef and you made what he told me he made, that he was gay," she shared with People. "So I was going to set him up with a friend of mine — another handsome Italian man — and he said, 'Oh, I'm not gay!' So we stayed out until 4 in the morning [and] that really was our first date."

It turns out that food and drink are central to the couple's relationship. Most lovers use terms of endearment to express affection: honey, baby, sweetheart. Rachael Ray calls her guy "Johnny Walker," a play on the famous whiskey brand, Johnnie Walker, because her beau loves Scotch (those booze-themed wedding vows make more sense now, don't they?). We're not sure what Cusimano calls Ray, but considering she enjoys a cup of ginger tea and claims she was bottle-fed wine as a child, he's got some options.

She doesn't make time for him ... and that's a good thing

In 2007, People asked Rachael Ray how she manages to make time for her husband while juggling such a hectic schedule as a celebrity chef and talk show host. Her answer: she doesn't! "I can't give a man an enormous amount of attention," she told the mag. "And John is totally down with that. When men I have dated over the years whined about, 'Oh, you make no time for me' — see ya! I just dumped them. I don't need that pressure in my life." 

During a 2015 episode of her talk show, Ray explained that she and Cusimano were very independent people before they joined their lives together, and they've held onto that freedom since marrying. "He has his music, I love to cook, so we're not on each other all the time," she said.

You also won't catch Cusimano sitting down and banging his utensils on the kitchen table, hollering, "Me want food!" According to Ray, he's the least demanding person ever. "He doesn't care if he gets dinner at 8 o'clock or 10 o'clock or 6 o'clock," she said. "He's actually very easy to be married to, but you can't have him!"

Their annual vacations can get pretty crowded

One tradition this couple looks forward to every year is their annual vacation with a few of their closest friends. And by "few," we mean hundreds! Each year, Rachael Ray and John Cusimano whisk their family and friends away on a trip so they can all bond and reconnect. "We've done this celebration every year for 10 years," Ray told People in 2015. "We're very busy; I have five jobs. We don't see everybody often enough, and we probably take them and their friendship for granted. But they make us better people for knowing them."

When "The Rachael Ray Show" ended its 17-year run in 2023, the pop culture chef received well-wishes from the likes of Michelle Obama, Cameron Diaz, and Kate Hudson to name a few. The living legend Oprah Winfrey, who helped Ray launch her career, even recorded a message for Ray's final show. "I couldn't be more proud of you for showing up as yourself so authentically everyday and bringing us laughter and joy all of these years. I knew from the moment that we met back in 2005 on the 'Oprah' show that you were the real deal," Winfrey said.

Cheating allegations rocked Rachael Ray's marriage early

Barely a year into Rachael Ray and John Cusimano's marriage, the National Enquirer published a cover story claiming that Cusimano had engaged in a five-year relationship with a Florida woman, Jeaninne Walz, that continued into his marriage with Ray. There was also a second woman who was reportedly paid by Cusimano "to satisfy his weird sex fetishes."

Ray got fed up with all the rumors and finally decided to address them during an episode of her television show. "Everybody gossips ... but this stuff is hurting people's feelings who are in our families and friends of ours," she told her audience in 2007 (via Extra). "They worry about us." The celebrity chef also encouraged her fans to stop purchasing tabloid magazines. "The tabloids won't stop printing this junk until people stop buying it," she said.

A celebrity marriage in the spotlight always sounds appealing, but this type of marriage faces a unique challenge: tabloids will be around for a while. Rachael Ray's marriage faced that challenge again in 2013 when it was placed, once again, in the crosshairs of the National Enquirer.

Was John Cusimano busted at a swingers club?

According to the infamous gossip outlet the National Enquirer, John Cusimano reportedly frequented a New York City swinger's club and enjoyed the company of women other than Ray. The Daily Mail found that the exclusive club, Checkmate, is a spot for those who practice an "alternative lifestyle." When discussing the interiors of Checkmate, the publication stated that members can enjoy a lounge with a buffet and "a large 'playroom' in the back with beds that can accommodate multiple people" as well.

In a statement by their representative addressing the allegations, the couple threatened legal action. "This is yet another pack of lies printed by the National Enquirer who have been targeting John and Rachael for several years with no merit," their rep said (via Fox News), adding that Cusimano's lawyers were "exploring legal action against the publication for defamation." 

But if that wasn't bad enough, while reporting on Cusimano and the club, the National Enquirer also claimed Ray had gained 37 pounds due to her marital issues and "to cope with the competi­tion she's facing in the syndicated talk show world."

John proposed to Rachael in the weirdest way

John Cusimano probably figured out early that a relationship with Rachael Ray would be a wild ride; for a man who usually displays a laid-back demeanor, Ray's at times high-strung demeanor could be intense. However, Cusimano once demonstrated an unorthodox way to take their relationship to the next level. Roughly 20 years ago, the couple hoped that an apartment they purchased in New York would be ready by the holidays. Ray wound up sobbing uncontrollably after discovering their pad wouldn't be primed in time. Hoping to mitigate a full-scale Ray meltdown, Cusimano decided that that was the perfect time to propose.

"I wanted her to stop crying, so I threw the ring at her head," he recalled on an episode of "Rachael." "It was a blue box, I'm not going to say where it came from ... and she thought it was a key ring, because we got this new apartment, and it wasn't. And then she screamed and I said something which I thought at the time was very charming, but I have no idea what I said." No doubt the incident would rank low on a list of best-ever proposals. 

Sadly, after replacing the rings and keeping the OG ones in her wallet, Ray's original engagement and wedding rings were stolen. So was the replacement set. A second ring replacement was lost in a house fire in 2021. "I'm 0 for 3 with engagement rings, everybody!" Cusimano remarked on a more recent "Rachael" episode. "Good for me!"

Rachael and John don't wake up at the same time

Rachael Ray and John Cusimano might be birds of a feather, but they don't necessarily flock together most days as they both adhere to very different schedules. In the case of Ray, that extends to sleep. She often wakes up at 3 a.m. while her husband remains in log mode for at least a couple more hours. Even when she doesn't have pressing commitments, Ray's an odd sleeper. "I'm not very good at sleep," Ray told People. "I never have been. Even when I was a little girl. My nickname was Little Hoot because I was a night owl."

Ray once remarked that she's lucky to get five hours of sleep per night and has admitted she's hyperactive, which is why she seldom relaxes. "I love the feeling of, you know, being in my sweats and my sneaks and running a ton of errands," she said, per CBS. "I love that." Another hindrance might be Cusimano's tendency to saw logs overnight. "He snores and will not admit that he snores," Ray declared on an episode of "Rachael." "And when I wake him up or even punch him to wake him up, to try and get him to move, he refuses to change his weird, freaky position, which is by the way, 9 pillows on the bed!"

They get really vocal when they argue

With their marriage on the verge of hitting two decades, there's no doubt that they genuinely support each other through thick and thin. During the coronavirus pandemic, the couple devised a plan to record the show from home. They also leaned on each other after a house fire in 2021 left them emotionally distraught. "The waves that come over us; we never see them coming," said Rachael Ray on a "Rachael" episode. "Thankfully, we haven't had them on the same day. One of us has a breakdown at a time."

But when the couple have a few differences to settle, they're the first to admit they don't do it civilly. That said, once the steam's released, the conflict is over. "When we are mad at each other, we scream," Ray told People. "If John is being an a–hole, I tell him, then I feel better. And John does the same thing. We share a great sense of humor, which helps." 

Despite those occasional fallouts, Ray said the glue to their marriage is a genuine affection for each other. "We actually like each other, have a lot of the same interests, and find it sexy to share bad behavior, like staying up too late, eating the wrong foods, and listening to loud music — rap, opera and any of our 3,000 records — wherever we are."