photo | Oprah Winfrey, Rachael Ray

Credit: David Russell

Published: Tuesday May 17, 2011 16:00 PM EDT



The plucky, popular Food Network host scored her own deal with Winfrey's star-making Harpo Productions in 2005, promoting her eponymous show with appearances on Winfrey's own talk show. "Rachael's energy and ability to connect with her audience are why she's such a hit," Winfrey tells PEOPLE of her protégé, who went on to win an Emmy and (just like Oprah) launch her own magazine, Every Day with Rachael Ray.

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