HOME > Chowhound > Food Media & News >


We have all vilified Sandra Lee but...

  • c

On Paula Deen's show this A.M. she made the most disgusting semi-home-made mess I have ever seen. You can check our the recipe on the Food Network website. It is her in the garden show. It was devil's food cake from a mix made into a trifle. The cake was cut up into cubes and layered with instant chocolate pudding and (real) whipped cream. Drizzled with commercial chocolate syrup and topped with pecans and maraschino cherries.

I don't know why we hold Sandra Lee in such contempt and not Paula Deen. This is also the woman who served up Krispy Kreme bread pudding and boasted "no added sugar"!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I love Paula Dean for her "Devil-may-care" attitude toward fat/sugar/etc. even though I don't eat like that..hmm, vicarious pleasure, perhaps. Ya gotta love that personality of hers!

    But Sandra-Lee is my fave...and her house is FAB!

    5 Replies
    1. re: amy t.

      I don't know who Paula Dean is, but it sounds like you were describing Julia Child.

      1. re: Gary Soup

        It is Paula Deen, with two e's . Owner of The Lady and Sons restaurant in Savannah. I picked up her first cook book on a whim, not knowing anything about her but having lived in Savannah as a kid it was more a sentimental purchase. I got rid of the book pronto. I don't know where I have ever seen so many recipes that called for canned soup as an ingredient or other pre-prepared items.

        1. re: Candy

          I think Paula Deen is a phony. Waaaay to cornpone for me. And yes, her food is goopy yall!

          1. re: Robert

            Agreed, Robert. Vaudeville acting doesn't go over with a close-up camera. And her gloppy buckets of cream slop makes me want to heave.

      2. re: amy t.

        I don't think that is sandra-lee's real house...

      3. The Queen of Mayonnaise ! All hail her southern sugary fatty gloppiness . Ugh , her "food" is representative of all that is bad and cheesy about southern cooking . Rachael Ray should have been the crazed killer in " Fargo " . I'm SURE she's got some Minnesota in her . Oh ya , sure . That's aboot all , then , oh ya .

        1. Oh, don't dis the KK bread pudding. I make a version of that recipe and it is incredible. I agree with you that sometimes Paula's recipes are 'Sandra-ish', but not always. I have made many of her recipes and have had great success. I also love her personality and find her very sincere - something that Sandra just cannot claim - although, I confess, I obsessively watch the train wreck that is 'Semi-Homemade'!

          1. Actually, I hold them both in contempt.

            2 Replies
            1. re: JudiAU

              Me, too. Being a southerner, I hope people don't think we cook like Paula Deen (of course some do, I guess). We have so many fabulous southern cooks with great cookbooks.

              1. re: JudiAU


                I've meet a number of very nice folks from Savanna. None of them recommend her restaurant. Nor are they thrilled with the image she paints of southern culture.

              2. Her recipes look just awful, but she seems like such a fun, good natured person it's hard to villify her. Plus, her experience running a successful restaurant gives her some credibility SL couldn't ever have.

                1. I've watched Paula's show a few times, and I really wanted to like it, because I like Southern cooking in general - but I can't. Nothing I've seen her make looks delicious to me - it all has way too much sugar, and way too many ingredients that don't occur in nature, and as someone said below, it's often goopy.

                  Sandra Lee is a worse offender, I think - Paula's stuff really is semi-homemade, in that she actually cooks some of it from scratch - where Sandra's primary culinary technique is opening cans of soup and cardboard tubes of pastry. (Plus, Paula's end product just looks mediocre to me - Sandra's food is downright repulsive - I wouldn't eat it unless you paid me at least $45, and I was hungry anyway.)

                  1. yeahhh... i dont know how paula deen gets as much credit as she does.

                    i saw her add a stick of butter to a block of cream cheese. which was simultaneously brilliant and disgusting. i can't take anyone seriously that uses campbell's cream of mushroom soup in anything. or those tinned biscuits. ick.

                    i'm half fascinated by the krispy kreme bread pudding. i think it could be good. nix that tinned fruit cocktail she used.

                    15 Replies
                    1. re: violet

                      Now, just hold on a dadgum minute: "Can't take seriously anyone that uses Campbell's cream of mushroom soup"? And just how in the hell do you propose to make a proper tuna-noodle casserole without that beige elixir? Stodgy goo though it may be, it is occasionally enjoyed, even as SOUP, by those of us who are of the Midwestern ilk, and it is we who could not bear to be deprived of our Mother Dish, that noble creation so airily dismissed by foodie snobs who wouldn't know a good plate of grub if it bit'em in the butt.


                      1. re: Will Owen

                        Very true. There are a few "comfort foods" that just have to have Campbells soup in them to make them right (or at least like mom made).
                        The dreaded green bean casserole is another (and Thanksgiving is coming) although I have found using cheddar cheese soup instead of mushroom makes it better.

                        1. re: Will Owen

                          Properly stated, and a fine defense of a tradition that goes back to the Depression. Had you only said this last week, you would have earned a plateful of those pork chops that were simmered for a couple hours in mushroom soup gravy to where the meat fell off the bones when you said "boo" to them. The moans of delight at the table were my reward.

                          1. re: Spudlover

                            I've never said i was against having mushroom soup on hand and using it but I was appalled at the amount of canned soup her recipes in her original cookbook called for, mushroom soup in beef stroganoff?

                            I'm glad you liked the porkchops, it sure makes them moist and tender to do them that way.

                            CL, I have never seen a chicken divan or turkey divan recipe using canned soup. We always had it with a very thick cheese sauce with wine. How do you make yours?

                            1. re: Candy

                              Wow, you had the fancy version. I've only made my mom's recipe twice, so need to dig it up, and will post on HC board when I do find it. Even to this day w/ my more developed palate, it wholly satisfies. It basically consists of canned cream of mushroom soup, milk, cheddar cheese, broccoli, poached chicken, S&P, and curry powder.

                              1. re: Carb Lover

                                ...Oh, forgot about the mayo (I use reduced fat). Last time I made it, in my need to be a little healthy and add some much-needed color, I tossed in some fresh mushrooms and sliced carrots. Will post the exact recipe on cooking board when I find it.

                                1. re: Carb Lover

                                  I make mine of leftover lightly poached or roasted chicken breast, sliced, laid over a bed of slightly par-cooked broccoli (the microwave is so money for this, and frozen spears are just fine)in a shallow buttered baking dish, napped with a light bechamel (seasoned with only a bay leaf and kosher salt and white pepper, nothing more) with a shot of good dry Spanish sherry and two T of good grated parm added, and sprinkled liberally with buttered bread crumbs mixed with another T of parm. Shove it under the broiler for 5-10 minutes, and BOOM. Damn good. Easy as a mud pie, - and for the chicken, if you pick up a store-bought rotisserie product at the store, dinner's already half-done.

                                  IMO, it takes as long to pry the lid off the soup and heat it up as to make the bechamel, so you might as well just suck it up and make the bechamel. Thing is, you don't need to make a veg or a starch, since it's very rich - just make a simple salad and serve some bread from a reasonably competent bakery (with luck, it'll be at the store where you picked up that chicken).

                                  Take THAT, Shamdra! (and Rachael Ray, too, for that matter - THIS is truly a 30-minute meal!)

                                  1. re: peg

                                    'it takes as long to pry the lid off the soup and heat it up as to make the bechamel'


                                    I have made bechamel countless times, but the humble canned soup makes it taste "right"...we always ate chicken divan over white rice to soak up the gooey sauce. I highly recommend the curry powder...

                                2. re: Candy

                                  My mom's divan, which will be my divan someday!, involves leftover chicken and par-cooked broccoli, of course, and a sauce made with a roux, chicken broth, milk, lemon juice, s&p and a touch of yogurt and/or mayo.

                                  Unnnnh, it's soooo good.

                              2. re: Will Owen

                                I am not a fan of using Campbell's soup, etc (never have). But, I agree that we "foodies" can get on our "high horse" and that can be equally offensive. Food snobery is a real turn off to me. The proof is in the pudding, if it tastes good then it is good.

                                1. re: Will Owen

                                  That's right - and how can you make green bean casserole?!! It is part of the Holy Trinity: french style green beans, cream of mushroom soup and durkee fried onions. 3 cans is all you need!

                                  1. re: Will Owen

                                    ...not to mention one of my favorite childhood comfort foods, Chicken Divan! I have Campbell's mushroom soup in my cupboard for that very purpose.

                                    PS. I've never made a Paula Deen recipe, but I like her and she's not in the same scary league as Sandra Lee. I believe that they do have something in common...Gordon Elliot produces both of their programs...and Gordon does those Campbell's commercials...hmmmmm

                                    1. re: Will Owen

                                      Well said, Will Owen! I'll see your FIE and raise you a POX!

                                      A friend of mine, a food snob of the first water, made a Thanksgiving "Green Bean Casserole" using duxelles, fresh Bechamel, haricots verts, freshly deep-fried onion rings, etc. It was abysmal.

                                      My darling daughter-in-law would have starved to death long ago but for two things:
                                      1. she owns a can opener
                                      2. she married my son, the family cook

                                      1. re: Sherri

                                        Abysmal? Your friend's dish sounds delectable to me.:-)

                                      2. re: Will Owen

                                        i'm not one for heavy, over salted foods. i don't know, i would rather not eat anything with *campbells* soup in it. i find it much too salty, with no real flavour. i'd prefer something with less gravy/gelatinous texture and more real mushroom flavour.

                                        that's what makes this chowhound, we all have differing opinions. i have my comfort foods that i love that i'm sure many would look down their nose at. but no need to fling the "foodie snobs" insult, now!

                                    2. Paula Deen is incredibly annoying and the food isn't good enough to make up for it. I assume she's liked by the same segment of the population that likes Willard Scott.

                                      1. Well, I've only seen each show about 10 times, but I have seen Paula Deen make food I would eat. Like fried catfish and hush puppies. And pimiento cheese, and biscuits.
                                        Semi Homemade is always hideous in every way, from the nasty food to the stupid "tablescapes" to the clumsy execution to the wacked out look in the eye and the Harlequin romance cover hairstyles.
                                        The only positive thing I can say about Sandra whatshername is that she seems to recognize that her guests will be needing alcoholic beverages as soon as they walk in her door.
                                        Wow, that felt mean. If you read this, Sandra, even though I meant it I would still trade careers with you in a second.

                                        1. Thanks to y'all, I haven't been able to get the first five seconds of Paula Deen's theme my music out of my head all morning. Just great.

                                          I once watched her throw what seemed like five pounds of butter and a sack of sugar into a huge stand mixer. My young friend screamed, "OH MY GOD!! Change the channel, that is so disgusting." Maybe forcing kids to watch her show can actually help turn this obesity problem around.

                                          14 Replies
                                          1. re: nooodles

                                            OK - so it's not just me that thinks Paula is taking her viewers straight to the cardiac ward with all that butter. On the other hand, I'm not a fan of southern cooking at all, so even though I will watch her show, I couldn't even think of making one of her recipes.

                                            And don't get me started on Shamdra Lee.

                                            1. re: nooodles

                                              I don't know... what IS wrong with five pounds of butter and a sack of sugar? Sounds like the beginning of something delicious to me...

                                              1. re: Sir Gawain

                                                I just wish I had a mixer that big. That's a lotta cupcakes!!!

                                                1. re: Sir Gawain

                                                  Not exactly the beginning.

                                                  Mix well five pounds of butter and a sack of sugar.
                                                  Portion into cupcake liners.
                                                  Garnish with candied cherries or ants.
                                                  Serve with a nice Chateau Yquem, or peach syrup & vodka shooters.

                                                  1. re: Shep

                                                    Ants? ANTS? Candied ANTS? Sounds disgusting (although the Candied Ants does sound like a good name for an 80s-type synthpop band)

                                                2. re: nooodles
                                                  Bob Martinez

                                                  "I once watched her throw what seemed like five pounds of butter and a sack of sugar into a huge stand mixer. My young friend screamed, "OH MY GOD!! Change the channel, that is so disgusting." Maybe forcing kids to watch her show can actually help turn this obesity problem around."

                                                  "Disgusting?" I think not - lots of the food looks quite good. It's just not the type of thing you could eat every day. For that matter it would also not be healthy to eat at Peter Luger's every day either, yet no one ever seems to bring up that point. If it will make you feel better, think of Paula Deen's recipes as "special occasion food."

                                                  1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                    Some of Paula's recipes are extraordinary. Like her Black Pepper Shrimp and her Fiery Cajun Shrimp.
                                                    I enjoy her southern hospitality and down to earth charm. Remember,it is Southern cooking.
                                                    For "annoying non-cook" I nominate Rachael Ray.
                                                    For a 37 year old woman, hger teeny bopper taste and expressions.. YUMM-O. are revolting.
                                                    The article on her in Newsweek was disgraceful

                                                    1. re: FLEUR
                                                      Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                                                      I adore Rachael Ray! She might not be Julia Child (or even Emeril), but she has a lot of great recipes for people who are on budgets, have minimal time to prepare elaborate home-cooked meals, and even more minimal cooking experience. She might have some annoying mannerisms -- even I'll admit that -- but she is extremely cute, and at least her 30-Minute Meals show is educational and interesting.

                                                      1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

                                                        I would have agreed with that in 2005. 2011... not so much.

                                                  2. re: nooodles

                                                    >>>I once watched her throw what seemed like five pounds of butter and a sack of sugar into a huge stand mixer. My young friend screamed, "OH MY GOD!! Change the channel, that is so disgusting."

                                                    Julia Child did stuff like that all the time and no one ever said anything.

                                                    1. re: 2chez mike

                                                      Reminds me a a festival that I went to in Louisiana where a doctor was preparing a pot of his family's Shrimp Creole recipe. After 20 minutes putting all of the ingredients together (the roux, shrimp, etc), he says and here is my secret ingredient - a stick of butter.

                                                      Bit it was good ...

                                                      1. re: 2chez mike

                                                        I have no problems with butter. I don't like Paula Dean because she is far more likely to prepare a recipe with crisco than butter. What a waste.

                                                        1. re: 2chez mike

                                                          actually, the way I understand it, back in the days of margarine, Julia did take a lot of heat for using real butter, and lots of it. She was cooking french food, afterall.

                                                          People have since realized that she was right. Her mantra was use all the butter/fat needed to make the dish - just eat small portions. Good advice.

                                                        2. re: nooodles

                                                          What was she making? I mix together lots of butter and sugar together on occasion...am I missing something?

                                                        3. I don't even think she is that bad. Her show is catered to a certain target audience and it's her gimmick to come up with shortcut recipes for the inexperienced, lazy, busy, etc...I'm sure the woman has been cookin for ages and is able to make things from scratch...

                                                          I mean cmon, I'm sure Rachel Ray doesn't always take only 30 mins to cook a dam meal at home, right?

                                                          But then, I guess everyone has their critics.

                                                          13 Replies
                                                          1. re: el

                                                            It's not that she uses mixes, takes short cuts, cuts corners, whatever, it's that that the FOOD SHE MAKES IS GROSS!! DISGUSTING. BAAAADDD.
                                                            Her recipes are the equivalent of reading directions on the back of a can/box which certainly does not warrant a TV show.

                                                            1. re: chowgal

                                                              Hey, don't get me wrong, I've never seen the show, but has anybody on here actually tried to make and eat any of this Sandra Lee stuff? An affront to good taste, I'll buy that, but, OK. If you were stuck on the island, no other chow to be had, how long would it take for you to belly up to ol' Sandra's table?

                                                              1. re: Shep

                                                                "If you were stuck on the island, no other chow to be had, how long would it take for you to belly up to ol' Sandra's table?"

                                                                How many of those could *you* eat? I'd rather chew on my arm.

                                                                Seriously, watch a couple of the shows and then come back and let us know how you feel. Semi Ho with Sandra Lee is the "Springtime for Hitler" of cooking shows.

                                                                Image: http://images.scrippsweb.com/FOOD/200...

                                                                1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                  My god man, was that picture taken in your bathroom?

                                                                  1. re: Bobfrmia

                                                                    "My god man, was that picture taken in your bathroom?"

                                                                    Behold the horror of Sandra Lee's Hamburger Dogs!

                                                                    In Sandra's kitchen no one can hear you scream.

                                                                    Link: http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recip...

                                                                  2. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                    Maybe it's because I've worked a long day, and had no dinner...

                                                                    Seriously, is it hamburger, or is it skite? If it's skite, I don't go that way, Gravity's Rainbow or not. If it's hamburger, it's gonna smell like hamburger, and I'm gonna be hungry.

                                                                    There are so many foods that look/smell/sound worse than those Bobbin' Logs--with raw oysters at the top of the list. They look like snot. They smell like crap. Anybody puts those inside any part of their body is a sicko, you want my opinion.

                                                                    Balut. Half-developed rotten duck embryo. God. Somehow, millions of rational people love balut.

                                                                    Pickled pig skin. Monkey brain sashimi. Termites. Lutefisk. Haggis. Brussel sprouts. BRUSSEL SPROUTS! Now, that's sick.

                                                                    Ground steak torpedoes? No problem. A little more onion, maybe.

                                                                  3. re: Shep

                                                                    Two words: Kwanzaa Kake. No discussion of Sandee is complete without a mention.


                                                                    1. re: beachmouse

                                                                      There doesn't seem to be any video to watch.

                                                                      1. re: beachmouse

                                                                        I had to turn the video off before I got sick to my stomach.

                                                                  4. re: el

                                                                    I think you raise an interesting point here. With so many CHs constant criticism of certain hosts and Food TV in general, they seem to lack the understanding that we are not Food TVs target audience. Just as it is a cheap shot to criticize music that one doesn't like, when it clearly is targeted at a different demographic, the same holds true for television cooking shows. Sandra Lee is not Jacques Pepin, nor should she be.Food TV is a commercial venture, and as such should be expected to reach a popular audience, not necessarily "our" audience.

                                                                    1. re: Two Forks
                                                                      Amuse Bouches

                                                                      But part of my issue with Sandra Lee is that she is reaching out to the nonchowhound target audience and reinforcing their misconceptions. She's not just the anti-Martha Stewart; she's the anti-Julia Child, the anti-Jacques Pepin, the anti-Alton Brown. Cooking is just not that difficult or complicated. It can be -- and maybe showing everyone shortcuts on easier cassoulet or sachertorte or whatnot is a valid thing to do. But there are many, many many things that are simple to make, quick to make, and do not require extensive use of premade commercial ingredients. Take Sandra Lee's recipe for margaritas -- they include beer, frozen limeade, and tequila. Now, last time I checked, a real margarita is made with triple sec, tequila and lime juice. How is this shorter or easier? It has the same number of ingredients. It requires the same amount of mixing. Squeezing limes is pretty easy. Sandra Lee is encouraging Americans to be afraid of food and afraid of cooking. And THAT is the problem with Sandra Lee.

                                                                        1. re: Amuse Bouches

                                                                          Well, said. This reminds me of what Angelo Pellegrini said in The Unprejudiced Palate about raising cooking to an "art" - keep in mind this was written in 1948 - but it still applies and unfortunately gives rise to the likes of Sandra Lee.

                                                                          "The American housewife has been convinced by these culinary fakirs that cooking is an art, and since she is at the moment in full revolt against the thesis that a woman’s place is in the home, she is quite willing to admit that her cooking isn’t worth a damn – despite the spherical tendencies of her own and her mate’s girth. She is in no mood to achieve distinction in the kitchen if to do so she must go snouting for truffles in the oak groves of Piedmont and preying upon snails in the vineyards of Burgundy. If cooking is an art, then by definition it can be mastered only by a select few – a conclusion which she has been quick to seize upon and to exploit in defense of her admitted ineptitude. If excellent meals require exotic and unavailable ingredients, endless hours in the kitchen and a lifetime to perfect, Mrs. Jones is content to whet the can opener and concentrate on bridge."