Does Sandra Lee make cooking seem accessible—or unnecessary? That’s one of the questions that came up in the comments after a recent Serious Eats post about her Chefography special on the Food Network. Whether or not Lee should have been considered for a Chefography has already been discussed on Serious Eats, but I’d like to know if anyone else thinks that the Semi-Homemade phenomenon could be making serious home cooks look like out-of-the-loop losers.
Now, obviously, Lee is a beacon for those who wouldn’t have the time (or interest) to bake their kids cookies if cookies didn’t come in a ready-to-bake roll. And that’s not a bad thing—every kid deserves a warm chocolate cookie now and then, even if it was processed by Pillsbury, right? But the dark side of the Sandra Lee phenomenon is that it leaves some people feeling guilty about eating real food that someone actually took the time to cook. All too often, one of the Semi-Homemade fans in my family says to me, “I feel so bad eating this, after you’ve spent so much time cooking it.”
And the even darker side is that—though it probably wasn’t Lee’s original intention—some of her militant Semi-Homemade disciples think that Totally Homemade food is for suckers. For example, when I bring a moderately elaborate dish to a family function, it is sometimes met with snide remarks like, “Wow, you must have a lot of time on your hands!”