Bourdain Gets Snarky on Sandra Lee

By Karen

Answering an off-beat question from Cory Streeter of The Kansas City Star, Anthony Bourdain side-swiped Sandra Lee. Here’s the exchange:

Streeter: You have differing opinions on a lot of celebrity chefs. Here’s a different twist on it: If Britney Spears became a chef, would you ever try her food?

Bourdain: So you’re talking someone that’s as stupid and talentless and messed up as Britney Spears cooking? Hasn’t it happened already? (Laughs.) I think we have a pretty good idea what that creature would look like if that happened. It would be called “Semi-Homemade,” and she has a show on Food Network already.

Read the rest of his wit and wisdom here.

I did feel warm and fuzzy when he said he wouldn’t scoff at someone who fails with chopsticks – if they’re enthusiastic about trying. I study his technique every time I see him eat with them, but his dexterity still escapes me.

Bourdain’s in Kansas City presenting, “A Cook’s Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Conditions” tonight. Interesting that he’s using his old Food Network title again, since it really fits him best. He’s probably still trying to buff the tarnish off No Reservations after somebody slapped it on a so-so “chef” movie to lend Catherine Zeta-Jones credibility in front of a stove.

Bourdain in NYC, Sept. 14, 2008

Bourdain in NYC, Sept. 14, 2008

A day earlier, Tony was in New York City at the Star Chefs International Chefs’ Congress having a discussion with Marco Pierre White moderated by Michael Ruhlman. He had kind words for Emeril Lagasse and others, and praised the late Julia Child as lovingly as he’d soon be disparaging Sandra Lee:

She [Julia] struck the ideal balance between chef and chef personality, plus her recipes still work today. She could have been the Martha Stewart of her day with a huge multimedia enterprise.


26 Responses to Bourdain Gets Snarky on Sandra Lee

  1. Deb says:

    That’s one thing I love about Bourdain, he speaks his mind. And how many of us wonder the same thing, “Who did Sandra Lee have to sleep with to get a show on The Foodnetwork?” The only silver lining I surmise on her show is she always has an alcoholic beverage to serve!
    Anthony Bordain is someone I would love to have at a dinner party! (with the understanding that I prepared my best dishes…but I draw the line at lamb’s eye balls)

  2. catsworking says:

    At first I thought he was ragging on Rachel Ray again because I’ve never seen Semi-Homemade. I watched a bit of Sandra Lee on YouTube and decided I’ve got to catch that show at least once. She looks like a piece of work.

  3. azuresage says:

    The only thing I hate more than her personality is her matchy-matchy sets

  4. Adele says:

    Michael Ruhlman, who is generally pretty mild mannered, refers to Sandra Lee as an “evil bitch, who must be stopped.” I like to cook and am a pretty good cook, and I can honestly say I’ve never seen Sandra Lee cook anything that seems edible — and the tablescapes. It’ worth watching a couple of times.

    Alice sends her best to Fred, Yul, and Adele; she suggests that Yul try some of the fancy feast chicken dishe, rather than fish. She doesn’t get much fish flavored food, because I don’t like the smell.

  5. catsworking says:

    Boy, we’ve got to find out when Sandra Lee is on and catch a few shows.

    Karen mixes it up for us when it comes to canned food, giving us a little bit of everything to keep us from getting finicky. But we used to have a housemate named Rex who had a SERIOUS tuna addiction.

    Yul shows no preference one way or the other, really. He’s mostly a gravy-licker and lives mainly on dry food. But he’s totally pro-choice. He got outraged at the THOUGHT that cats might be deprived of their right to choose – FISH. I’m betting if you asked Sarah Palin, she’d be against it.

  6. BITTER says:

    GO, Tony!!! I love it when he lays into Sandra!!! She’s been on my s**t list ever since she made that Kwanzaa Cake.

  7. catsworking says:

    OK, you all have convinced me. Sandra Lee comes on at 4pm today and I’ve got the VCR set to tape. I’ve got to see this chick for myself.

  8. MorganLF says:

    You will be blown away…that anything so contrived has been on for YEARS. I once saw her “do” a kids party on the beach where she “made” a lobstser salad by mixing lobster chunks from the store with mayo on the beach in hte sand!!! Ughhh hot mayo and grit then ladled it out in scallop shells bought at the store and the tablescape was …driftwood and sea shells it was farcical. It is so horrible I find it rriveting and have seen quite a few shows, sorta like listening to Palin speak….you know its gonna be stupid and awful but you somehow can’t turn away.

    As for wet food, the rule in my house was always dry food (Friskies) no smelly wet food allowed. In fact ,our Charlie ( a big grey and white stray) wrote to the Friskies company on behalf of his mother and mine back in the late sixties. He was afraid he was not going to get his favorite food anymore if they did not redesign the pour was messy to pour and scattered Friskies all over our mom’s floor making her mad. They wrote Charlie back and ultimately redesigned the spout to tilt out. For special treats there were Tender Vittles do they make those anymore?

  9. catsworking says:

    Morgan, I think that episode of Lee on the beach is the one I saw on YouTube. She was wearing a red outfit and I couldn’t take my eyes off her Dolly Parton cleavage. I didn’t even notice what she was preparing.

    I can hardly wait to see what the VCR captures today.

    Now that you mention it, I don’t think they do make Tender Vittles anymore. I haven’t seen them in ages. They were like little blobs of Play Dough.

    I’ve never given them semi-moist food because it hardens in the bowl and gets disgusting. And all their treats are crunchy for whatever dubious tooth “cleaning” that provides. They always have dry Purina One to munch on. Fred’s eating the Kitten version these days to keep his weight up, but I see Yul and Adele sometimes hitting the “baby food” themselves.

    Adele is the big canned food eater, but I think she’s got a food allergy and has licked 25% of her body and the base of her tail bald. Haven’t gotten to the bottom of that yet.

  10. Adele says:

    If you’ve seen Sandra Lee, by now, you know what Tony B. is talking about. The tablescapes, the wretched cocktails, the use of pre-fab everything — “And remember, keep it simple; keep it sweet, and always, keep it semi-homemade.” Yeccchh!

    BTW. the reason Bourdain is using the title, “A Cook’s Tour,” again, is that the Food Network’s rights to the title and the program expired — I think on 6/30/08.

  11. catsworking says:

    Yup, Adele, we watched an episode of Semi-Homemade last night. Lee was making Tandoori Chicken, eggplant, rice, a pita dip, and cocktails. I’m not going to pass judgment quite yet (I’m taping again today), but I will say I was taking notes and she was grossing me out with the way she was sticking her unwashed fingers in all her spice jars. Who DOES that?

    I can see how Bourdain immediately made the connection when that reporter mentioned Britney Spears. How long has this woman been on the air?

    Interesting tidbit about the Food Network losing the rights to the Cook’s Tour title. Sounds like perhaps it was a shrewd bit of negotiating on Tony’s part because it perfectly describes his career on several levels.

  12. Adele says:

    Semi-homemade tandoori — I can’t imagine it, and I love tandoori. Do take careful notes on the wretched cocktails Aunt Sandy (she frequently does shows with her nieces and nephews) prepares. They’re enough to make one take the pledge. Foodies have been criticizing the Food Network for developing on-air personalities, rather than trained cooks. Sandra Lee is by far the most egregious, but there are several Food Network stars, whose dinner invitations I’d decline.

    Alice wanted me to tell Yul that she’s very glad that Shackle survived Hurricain Ike. She points out that people tend to take their dogs away from natural disasters much more often than they take their cats. Also, when hearing about Fred now being offered kitten food to keep his weight up, she remembered that as Ophelia, her former flirtatious calico housemate, was getting really old, she was offered rich food to maintain her weight. Ophelia’s appetite remained modest (though she could always be coaxed to accept a shrimp, piece of crab, or pate), but Alice chowed down, playing havoc with her girlish figure.

  13. catsworking says:

    I have a problem with the whole concept of the Anybody Can Cook approach promoted by Rachel Ray and Sandra Lee. For some strange reason I’ve always liked to watch cooking shows, but I do it to learn how the pros operate, not watch someone as inept as me bumble through it. That’s why I like Emeril. Bourdain may not care for his recipes, but nobody can say Lagasse doesn’t know his way around a kitchen.

    My other favorite was a guy in Canada (British Columbia, I think) named Stephen Yan (not Martin Yan) who had a show called “Wok with Yan.” Between jobs with plenty of time, I learned a ton from Yan about wok cooking and made many of his dishes. But prepping for wok cooking is hell, and once I went back to work, I just didn’t have time to keep it up. That was also my golden chopsticks period, but I never got very good with them.

    Adele has always managed to maintain her girlish figure, so we were shocked this year when the vet told her she’d gained a pound. I think it’s her midnight nosh raids on Fred’s kitten food bowl she thinks no one knows about.

    Revisit the comments on the Shackle post. One of her human cousins checked in and confirmed that neither Shackler nor the escaped tiger were zoo animals and they’re being well taken care of.

  14. BITTER says:

    Semi-Homemade as a concept is not a bad idea. Lee’s execution of it, however, is beyond wretched. Frozen veggies to make salads? Smothered fried chicken using CANNED gravy? Sweet potato pie using CANNED sweet potatoes? And some of those seasoning packets, you’d have to move hell and high water to find some of them. It would just be easier to buy some inexpensive spices one day and mix the ones together to achieve the desired taste (Mexican, Cajun), than use those seasoning packets she is obsessed with.

    She makes me want to laugh at her and throttle her at the same time.

  15. catsworking says:

    I’ve seen a few episodes now, and I have to say the bags of thawed-out frozen fruits and veggies she uses are gag-inducing. I’ve been making a list of what I’m noticing so I can unleash my own snark on her soon.

  16. Adele says:

    I happened to watch about 10 minutes of Semi-Homemade, yesterday. It was a soul food episode. I didn’t catch everything Sandy was making, but I believe she made Stove Top cornbread stuffing “freshened” with one of those frozen seaoning veggie combos (probably onions, celery and bell peppers). And I got to see her guest make a sweet potato pie with canned sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie spice (a Sandy fave), sweetened condensed milk ( I have seen several sweet potato pie recipes that call for sweetened condensed milk; I prefer to use milk or cream and sweeten to my taste), and a topping of heavy cream, pecans and brown sugar. I love desserts, but this seemed too sweet. Even the canned sweet potatoes were in light syrup. The guest was African American, and the table scape was all black — accidental? I think not. The cocktail was a peach punch, with, of course, frozen peaches.

    BTW, those packaged spice combos often contain a lot of preservatives and excess salt and sugar. It’s just not that hard to mix up your own spices. Sandra Lee is deserving of snark. Will one of the cats take her on, or will this be a human post?

  17. catsworking says:

    The post on Sandra Lee will be human because every time I tune into her program, Yul, Fred, and Adele start simultaneously hurling. It’s pretty ugly and the carpet can’t take much more.

    It’s the only Food Network show they react so severely to. They’re usually pretty strong, managing to keep their Fancy Feast down even when faced with Rachel Ray.

    In the few times I’ve seen Sandra Lee so far, I have to say that the woman puts away more booze in the name of “demonstration” than any other TV cook I’ve ever seen. Was it a written into her contract with the Food Network that she get so many ounces per episode to keep her from lapsing into DTs?

    I agree with all that’s been said about the spice packets and would rather mix my own spices from a taste standpoint. But I do confess to keeping a big jar of Emeril’s Essence in my pantry and use it to jazz up a lot of stuff.

  18. Adele says:

    I suspect, though, if you check the ingredients in Emeril’s Essence, they’re all real spices and no chemical additives. I confess to having a container of Tony Cachere’s Creole Seasoning, which I use similarly

  19. catsworking says:

    You’re probably right. Emeril probably did have some hand in quality control. I knew I’d gone hardcore when I bought the supersized Essence at Sam’s Club to refill the huge bottle from the grocery store I’d just depleted.

    I can see Sandra Lee putting her face on a liquor bottle. Maybe an all-purpose frozen concoction that you could thaw into any mixer to make a delicious, but lethal, pick-me-up.

    I caught one more episode this morning while the cats were off doing their thing, and I think I’m ready to unload some snark on her myself.

  20. Adele says:

    At 9:30 your time, on Saturdays, there’s a show called The Cooking Loft, which is a real cooking show, hosted by a woman, who knows how to cook; I came across it this morning. Unfortunately, it was followed by Semi-Homemade, with Sandra Lee encasing her impressive mammary superstructure in a tight dirndle-type outfit — Oktober Fest! I watched only long enough to learn that the drink of the day was apple lager — which I can only assume was lager mixed with apple cider. I believe the woman has no taste buds, but I fear for her liver.

    I think your on to something with the Aunt Sandy pre-mixed cocktail.

  21. Jim says:

    On Sandra Lee drinking: Guy Fierie(sp) fixes cocktails everyday, as does Bobby Flay, Ina Garten, Giada Delarentiss, and others. I never see her take more than a taste, where as Tony drinks all through his program which is 30 minutes longer than the others….
    I have prolly learned more from Sandy about getting food prepared in a hurry than from any other show on TV. I have seen Tony cook, but not an established menu.
    I saw the Kwanzaa Cake episode and thought it was satire as there is no such holiday. She did it well as it fooled all of you….
    His new marriage I knew about and when I saw the daughter, she is NOT dark headed. More red head or a ginger child….not unusual for an Italian from Northern Italy….
    Some have suggested that SL has had “enhancements”, well I implore you to show before and after pics. you can’t do it….She has faults as we all do, but she is on tv and we aren’t,and will never be….
    She took AB down and let us leave it there…..

  22. catsworking says:

    Hi, Jim. Thanks for standing up to defend Sandra Lee. I’ve only seen her show a few times and didn’t find her particularly inspiring. How much she really drinks, I have no idea. But you make a good point about Bourdain and his drinking. He makes no effort to hide it.

    For the record, there IS a holiday called Kwanzaa. It’s African. You can read about it here:

    I know nothing about Sandra Lee having “enhancements,” and I don’t think I mentioned any such thing in this post. All I know about Sandra Lee is that she had a very terrible childhood and has become extremely successful in spite of it. For that, she deserves a lot of credit.

    Bourdain has never tried to be a cook on TV. Both his shows (the other was A Cook’s Tour on Food Network) have focused on travel, with him eating rather than preparing. He was a cook and then a chef BEFORE he became famous, so sometimes he occasionally cooks on his shows. But he has NEVER tried to teach anyone how to cook on his show and has said that he could never see himself hosting a cooking show.

    And you’re right. The last picture I saw of Ariane, she had red hair. My sister is half Italian and she’s blonde. It happens.

  23. RC says:

    Oh my gosh, you’ve got to be kidding me, why would you gourmet chef’s take the time to be critical of someone who doesn’t pretend to be up to your self proclaimed status. I’ve seen this show a few times as my wife actually tuned away from HGTV (hard to believe)to watch Sandra Lee. What caught my attention initially was her attractiveness, but what further was interesting, was what she prepared was made up of ingredients we had in the house… no need to visit 2 grocery stores, a health food store and a farmers market.

    My suggestion… since you are unable to change your channel, you obvioulsy are unable work your remote, so… I suggest you walk out of the room, or unplug the TV.

    In conclusion, if you don’t like sports, don’t watch ESPN, if you don’t like home improvement, don’t watch HGTV, if you don’t like the news, don’t watch CNN… AND if you don’t like Sandra Lee… DON’T WATCH IT!!! The same as I won’t be reading anymore of your boorish, elitist opinions.

  24. catsworking says:

    RC, we’re sorry that you stumbled upon Cats Working and actually read a post. Could it be that you were unable to work the left-click button on your mouse, walk out of the room, or unplug your computer?

    I wonder where you got the idea that there are any “gourmet chefs” here. We’re not even foodies. Perhaps your comments are directed at Anthony Bourdain himself?

    I’ve seen Sandra Lee just a couple of times, and I agree with your point about her being eye candy. I’m sure her cleavage also helps Lee keep male viewers enthralled while she’s opening cans.

  25. Bob says:

    Hmmmmmph, Some peoples kids. Did RC even bother to “Read” any of the post????

    I think that I am the closest thing to a foodie this site has, and that’s not saying much.

  26. catsworking says:

    Bob, I would agree that you’re our resident foodie and you’re right. That’s not saying much. 😉

    Sometimes I wonder where these nasty nut jobs come from, but then remind myself, “It’s the Internet, stupid!”

    Perhaps RC was Googling Sandra Lee (trolling for cheesecake pics, since he thinks she’s so hot?) and Cats Working came up. Maybe he thought, “Bourdain Gets Snarky on Sandra Lee,” implied something racy and, in his disappointment, lashed out at all of us. Sad, really…

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