Sandra Lee Kwanzaa Cake Mystery Explained?

Probably the most frightening show in Food Network's programming lineup (at least to food snobs and natural food types) is Semi-Homemade Cooking With Sandra Lee.

Sandra Lee, as New Yorkers know, has been dating governor-elect Andrew Cuomo for several years and is poised to become the de facto first lady of the state soon. As such, some of her more hilarious insults to perfectly innocent food are starting to get press, most notably her infamous Hanukkah and Kwanzaa cakes. Think store-bought angel food cakes with canned frosting tinted with food coloring, filled with canned apple pie filling or marshmallows, and decorated with plastic pearls (Hanukkah) or corn nuts and gigantic colored candles (Kwanzaa).

They are truly among the most horrifying food items ever captured on film ... and now their behind the scenes creator is coming out of the shadows and admitting to her deeds.


Food stylist Denise Vivaldo wrote a funny post for The Huffington Post last week, confessing that she, not Lee, actually developed both cakes for a magazine article Lee had been asked to do. This after working on a book for her for 13 months.

I can honestly say Ms. Lee had nothing against African Americans or Jews. She just has incredibly bad food taste. She was not discriminating about who would be harmed from her culinary "creations." Think what your taste would be like if you came from carnival or circus people. Did I just offend Paris Hilton?

Lee-bashing aside, an interesting aspect of this post is that Vivaldo makes between $100 and $400 per recipe that she sells to celebrity chefs and cookbook authors. Some of them are just too busy to do it themselves but need a money-making project. As Vivaldo puts it, "in some cases the 'talent' ... has no talent."

Who knew? I mean, I know if I go eat at Michael Symon's restaurant in my town, he's unlikely to be on the line cooking my dinner, but it never occurred to me chefs don't even develop the recipes in the cookbooks that bear their names.

And lest you think I'm being a bit harsh on the cakes:


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