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John Cusimano has a special relationship with Food Network star chef and marketing phenomenon Rachael Ray. Cusimano, 38, isn’t just the president and in-house lawyer for Watch Entertainment, Inc., a licensing and marketing company he co-owns with Ray. He’s also her husband. Ray’s perky perma-grin, down-to-earth recipes, and oft-repeated exclamations like, “How good is that?” have made her a household name. Her two shows on the Food Network � 30 Minute Meals and $40 a Day � have spawned a growing media empire. And the first issue of a new magazine, Every Day with Rachael Ray, hit newsstands in late 2005. The chef has also signed on to host a syndicated radio talk show that’s set to begin this fall. Cusimano, no slouch in front of the public himself � he plays in a rock band � told us what it’s like to be a celebrity chef’s helpmate. What is your legal background? After graduating law school [in 1994], I spent five years practicing litigation, mostly with Cantor, Epstein & Degenshein in New York. I eventually took a position as in-house counsel at Arrow Entertainment [a film company]. When Arrow went out of business in 2003, I launched Watch Entertainment. What’s Watch Entertainment? Originally, Watch was an independent film distribution company. When Rachael started becoming more popular a couple of years ago, she told me that she might want to start a line of cookware, or her own chef’s knives. Since the legal language of a film license and a merchandise or vendor license are similar, I already knew the deal points. A year later, we had three big licensing deals, and it slowly but surely became full-time. What are your day-to-day duties as president of Watch and attorney for Rachael Ray? I run the merchandising and licensing part of the Rachael Ray business, so I find and then negotiate the merchandising and licensing deals such as chef’s knives and sharpeners, the Anolon pots and pans Rachael designed, the Salton small kitchen appliance line. There are T-shirts. And now we have a line of olive oils, called EVOO [extra virgin olive oil]. I also negotiated with Rachael’s agent [at The William Morris Agency] the renewal of her Food Network deal, her book deal with Clarkson Potter, the King World deal for the talk show, and the magazine deal. It’s a full-time job. Do you cook? I do. Sometimes I’ll cook a whole meal, but most of the time [Rachael] is taking the lead in the kitchen, obviously. In fact, our first conversation was about food. The night we met, I told her that I cook. She rolled her eyes and said “Sure.” I told her that, in fact, the night before I’d made tilapia with tomatillo sauce with jalape�os and cilantro, deglazed the pan with a little Negro Modelo, and made a little maque choux [a Cajun dish made with corn] on the side. She flipped out; we started dating immediately. What kind of music does your band, The Cringe, play? Alt[ernative] rock, kind of like the Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots. Where did you and Ray get married? We had 130 guests at our [September] wedding in Tuscany, just outside of Montalcino. My first word was “more,” and Rachael’s first word was “vino.” So we had to be married in wine country. Montalcino is home to Brunello, a favorite wine of ours. Do you ever go out to eat? Not that much. We usually eat at home. The food’s really good here. [Laughs.] Do meals at home generally take 30 minutes to prepare? Yes. Actually, on 30 Minute Meals, Rachael’s doing those meals in 17 minutes because of the commercial breaks.

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