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Behind the scenes for Rachael Ray's 2000th show

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Sandy Kenyon reports on the Rachael Ray Show's 2000th episode

Rachael Ray marked her 2000th show on Thursday with a parade of guests that included everyone from Tony Bennett to rapper 50 Cent, but none was more meaningful than the lady who came out first -- even before the host!

"The Rachael Ray Show" began as an idea Oprah Winfrey had a dozen years ago, and it has endured. That's why it seemed so right she be the first out in front of a cheering crowd when it came time to mark this milestone.

Oprah "was essential in launching our show," Rachael told me backstage just minutes before taping the episode.

"I wouldn't have my job, but more importantly: the quality of my family's life, my charitable initiatives, none of that would exist without her," she said.

Like her mentor, Rachael has built a multi-media empire based on doing well, by doing good.

As she puts it, "I think that we have priorities that feel real to people, and maybe that's why we're still here."

Sandy Kenyon with Rachael Ray, celebrating her 2000th show.

The host told me she feels "lucky" and even "spoiled" to have a job that doesn't feel like work. Her colleagues feel like "family." She told me about Eric Martin, whose mother was her longtime stage manager:

"I just come to work and feel grateful that Eric, who I have known since he was 9, is now 6 foot 5 and he's a security officer here," she said.

I found him ushering audience members through the door of the studio and telling me, "Rachael's awesome. She's amazing. She adopted me like a nephew, and she treats me good."

Rachael does seem like your bubbly best friend and the life of any party.

"I come here and I actually get happy," she admits so what she told me next came as a surprise, when I'm at home, I'm a much more serious person. It's weird: people are a little freaked out if they spend a weekend at my house because I'm always in the kitchen, and I'm always writing and doing very quiet things. Work is where I come to be loud and have fun. When I'm at home I'm actually kind of mousy and the opposite," she said.

'Mousy'? Really? Who knew?!!

"The Rachael Ray Show" airs every morning at 10 AM on Channel 7 right after "Live with Kelly and Ryan."

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