The Ray one doesn't see is quiet, concentrated, the girl drawing and thinking in her tent, the daughter who would get up in the middle of the night, go into the living room, and under one light sit "on the floor," her mother says, "drawing something or writing something.

Ray went from Macy's in Herald Square to the gourmet store Agata & Valentina on the Upper East Side, a job she loved.

She might still be there today if fate hadn't intervened, alarmingly, in the form of a teenage boy.

Ray has indeed tapped into what her customer wants and needs.

And she did it seemingly overnight, as if this particular spotlight, the one with the stove, were just waiting for her.

I want to dance"—can take any recipe and "canoodle it" (Ray slang meaning speed up and simplify) for the Average Joe.

Ray went to Pace University in Westchester, majoring in literature and communications.Her father elaborates: "She's the hardest-working person I know."Rachael says she gets that from her mother.When Ray was young the family owned three restaurants on Cape Cod and both parents worked in them.But when she takes to the runway, shoulders square, spine straight—almost marching!—Ray could be the kids' favorite sitter or the drum majorette or the entry-level sales rep with the sky-high numbers.She's more cute than couture, that wide, sunny smile an all-American archetype.