Sandra Lee

Sandra Lee Biography

Sandra Lee (born Sandra Lee Christiansen on July 3, 1966) is an American television chef and author. She is known for her "Semi-Homemade" cooking concept, which Lee describes as using 70 percent pre-packaged products and 30 percent fresh items.

Early life

Lee and her sister Cindy lived with their paternal grandmother, Lorraine. By 1972, her parents had divorced; her mother remarried, moving them to Sumner, Washington. When Lee was 11, her mother divorced for a second time. Lee then took on the role of mother for her four younger siblings. Her responsibilities included buying groceries, preparing the meals, and handling the family finances. She graduated from Onalaska High School in Onalaska, Wisconsin. Lee attended the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. She later attended Le Cordon Bleu in Ottawa, Canada for one week.


In the early 1990s, Lee created a product called "Sandra Lee Kraft Kurtains", a home decorating tool that used a wire rack and sheets or other fabric samples to create decorative drapery. The product was sold via infomercials and cable shopping networks. Home-shopping network QVC hired her as on-air talent; in her first 18 months on the network, Lee sold $20 million worth of products.

Semi-Homemade Cooking with Sandra Lee premiered on the Food Network in 2003. Each episode contains an arts and crafts element, in which Lee decorates the table setting in accordance with the theme of the meal that she just prepared. She refers to these as "tablescapes". Lee's second Food Network series, Sandra's Money Saving Meals, began airing on May 10, 2009. She has released 25 books, including Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade: Cool Kids Cooking (October 2006) and a memoir, Made From Scratch, which was released in November 2007. A magazine based on her show, Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade, was released in 2009.

In 2012, Sandra Lee won the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lifestyle/Culinary Host for Semi-Homemade Cooking.

Also in 2012, Sandra Lee is also starting a new monthly lifestyle magazine in partnership with TV Guide. She is also starring in two new shows: Sandra's Restaurant Remakes and Sandra Lee's Taverns, Lounges & Clubs.

Critical reaction

Amanda Hesser wrote in The New York Times that Lee "...seems more intent on encouraging people to create excuses for not cooking than on encouraging them to cook wholesome simple foods", concluding that "...she has produced two books in which she encourages a dislike for cooking, and gives people an excuse for feeding themselves and their families mediocre food filled with preservatives".

Food writer Anthony Bourdain has been harshly critical of Lee and described a video of Lee preparing a Kwanzaa cake as "eye searing". Lee's Kwanzaa Cake has been called "scary" by the Houston Chronicle, and "the most ghastly-sounding dish in Lee's culinary repertoire" by Tulsa World. says the video "takes pride of place in the pantheon of hilarious culinary disaster videos".

The Charlotte Observer summarized the reaction to Lee by saying "It would be a stretch to call Sandra Lee semi-controversial. Judging from the reaction to her Food Network show 'Semi-Homemade Cooking With Sandra Lee,' she's completely controversial." Noting that Lee has both harsh critics and adoring fans, the Observer asked Lee about the criticism. She replied "I was surprised by the reaction on both sides", adding "that's how you know it's meaningful, when you get a reaction."

When the Seattle Post-Intelligencer ran a review of Lee's cookbook Semi-Homemade Cooking that criticized both her recipe and her "Semi-Homemade" concept, the review's author received a response "that was more impassioned than I anticipated", with most readers agreeing with the article. However, a number of readers disagreed with the column. One reader wrote, "Lots of people who don't want to take the time to shred a cup of carrots want to cook a good meal."

Kurt Soller, writing for Newsweek, compared Lee's impact upon television cooking with that of Julia Child, noting that although Lee's show "is the furthest from Child's methods", both women "filled a niche that hasn't yet been explored".

Personal life

From 2001 to 2005 she was married to KB Home CEO and philanthropist Bruce Karatz. Lee is the girlfriend of Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo; the two share a house in Chappaqua, New York.

Lee's grandmother, who was a formative influence on her culinary habits and whose tips are featured throughout her various cooking books, suffered from Rheumatoid Arthritis. A component of Lee's charitable work is I Can With RA, a program which helps cooks living with the condition "shop, organize their kitchens and whip up delicious dishes in a way that causes the least discomfort."

This webpage uses material from the Wikipedia article "Sandra_Lee_%28cook%29" and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions the Wikipedia article may contain.



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