The real reason semi-home cooking ended with Sandra Lee

Chef and television personality Sandra Lee first burst onto the Food Network scene in 2003 with her own show, aptly titled “Semi-Homemade Cooking with Sandra Lee.” As you may recall, Lee made waves with the 70/30 rule she incorporated into her recipes: 70% store-bought foods with 30% fresh ingredients. While some were delighted with Lee’s ultra-casual approach to the kitchen, others were anything but amused. Yet she remained steadfast in her goal of bringing semi-homemade recipes to the forefront of American households. “I’m not sure some of the food purists get in touch with what’s really going on in American homes,” Lee told the New York Times shtick in 2012. That’s how some people get their press. 17 million children in this country go hungry every day and we’re worried about my kwanzaa cake from 10 years ago? I find that ridiculous. Yes, I can laugh about that,” she replied matter-of-factly.

Eventually, however, Lee said goodbye to the popular cooking show. But what’s the real reason Semi-Homemade Cooking With Sandra Lee ended? The answer might surprise you.

Sandra Lee wanted to do new things

After an impressive 15-season run, Semi-Homemade Cooking with a Sandra Lee finally came to an end in 2011 — but if you think mixed reviews and rampant criticism were the only reason the show was removed from the Food Network in 86, think again.

According to the Daily Mail, Lee aspired to strengthen her brand and build an empire and a lasting legacy. “I’m the only personality that Sears and Kmart has. It’s something nobody in my category could do,” she proudly told The New York Times in 2012. “But I’m not that arrogant. marthas [Stewart] not dropped anywhere. Did she dump Julia Child? Julia was Julia, Martha is Martha and I am me. Period,” she added cautiously about other legends in the industry. But what came next for the new upscale brand of the household name? Your own lifestyle magazine and book about home and garden! every line in the magazine,” she gushed during a phone interview in 2013. “And I don’t know many people who are like that anymore,” she explained.

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Sandra Lee wanted to give something back

Aside from her professional endeavors, Sandra Lee also wanted to use her newfound freedom and time to give back and help others.

“It’s not just the poor and homeless who are suffering. It’s the middle class, too,” Lee told the New York Post in January 2011 of her efforts to address food insecurity. “I’m going to use my connections and be more focused on what I’m bringing to upstate New York,” she explained. According to Lee, it was her own upbringing and childhood that cemented her passion for helping others. “I know firsthand the life-changing difference charities can make, especially to a kid, because I was one of those kids,” Lee told Angeleno Magazine in 2017 (via People). “Some would say I was born into disadvantaged backgrounds. I consider it a gift. It made me who I am today and that is a woman who is committed to working hard, having a clear perspective and putting my family first and giving back.” Bravo, Sandra Lee!