Rachael Ray officially joins SXSW, but why did it take so long?

Rachael Ray, seen here with Jimmy Kimmel and Billy Gibbons at one of her unofficial SXSW parties, will be a featured speaker at the 2017 event. Photo by Addie Broyles.

Rachael Ray, seen here with Jimmy Kimmel and Billy Gibbons at one of her unofficial SXSW parties, will be a featured speaker at the 2017 event. Photo by Addie Broyles.

After hosting unofficial South by Southwest parties for the past nine years, Rachael Ray is now officially on the schedule.

Ray, the Food Network and daytime TV host, is one of a number of featured speakers that SXSW announced today. The organization didn’t give any hints about what Ray would talk about at the March event, but with her Instagram-inspired cookbook, countless Rachael Ray kitchen products, a widely distributed print magazine and daytime television show and some serious SXSW cred with all those Feedback parties, she has plenty to talk about.

South by Southwest tends to skew male, but it’s pretty crazy to me that Ray hasn’t been a featured speaker until now. It’s possible that she has declined offers from SXSW to participate in a more official capacity, but I doubt it.

I also doubt that Anthony Bourdain, who has given several keynote speeches at SXSW in recent years, could hold a candle to Ray when it comes to building a brand and a business empire, which are two of the main topics covered at the annual conference. I’ve heard some people speculate that it’s because she doesn’t have quite the personality of Bourdain, but I suspect that those people haven’t actually watched her on TV, where speaks to an audience of millions as if they are sitting in her own kitchen.

Another food person on the list of featured speakers is Kimbal Musk, Elon Musk’s brother who is on the board of Chipotle and is a co-founder of a number of restaurants.

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