The Real Reason Semi Homemade Cooking With Sandra Lee Ended

Chef and television personality Sandra Lee first burst onto the Food Network scene in 2003 with her very own show aptly titled, "Semi-Homemade Cooking with Sandra Lee." As you may recall, Lee made waves with the 70/30 rule she incorporated in her recipes: 70% store-bought food with 30% fresh ingredients. While some rejoiced in Lee's ultra-casual approach in the kitchen, others were anything but amused. Still, she remained steadfast in her goal to bring semi-homemade recipes to the forefront of American homes. "I'm not sure that some of the food purists are in touch with what really goes on in American households," Lee told the New York Times in 2012. And as for fellow celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain's criticism of her cooking concept: "It's shtick. That's how some people get their press. There are 17 million children in this country going hungry every day, and we're worried about my Kwanzaa cake from 10 years ago? That's what I think is ridiculous. Yes, I can laugh about it," she replied matter-of-factly.

Eventually, however, Lee did bid farewell to the popular cooking show. But what's the real reason "Semi-Homemade Cooking With Sandra Lee" ended? The answer just 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 a close in 2011 — but if you think mixed reviews and rampant criticism were the only reason the show was 86'd from the Food Network, think again. 

According to Daily Mail, Lee aspired to elevate her brand and carve out an empire and long-lasting legacy for herself. "I'm the only personality that has Sears and Kmart. That's not something that anyone in my category has been able to do," she proudly declared to the New York Times in 2012. "But I'm not arrogant that way. Martha's [Stewart] not thrown off anywhere. Did she throw Julia Child off? Julia was Julia, Martha is Martha and I am me. Period," she carefully added about fellow legends in the industry. But what was next for the household name's new elevated brand? Her very own lifestyle magazine and a home and gardening book, too! "I am completely and passionately dedicated and intimately involved with every line in the magazine,' she gushed during a phone interview in 2013. "And I don't know a lot of people who are like that anymore," she declared.

Sandra Lee wanted to give 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 the homeless that are suffering. It is the middle class, too," Lee told the New York Post in January 2011 about her efforts to combat food insecurity. "I'm going to use the relationships I have and focus more on what I'm generating into the state of New York," she explained. According to Lee, it was her own upbringing and childhood that solidified her passion for helping others. "I know firsthand what a life-changing difference charitable organizations can make, especially to a child, because I was one of those children," Lee told Angeleno Magazine in 2017 (via People). "Some would say I was born into underprivileged circumstances. I think of it as a gift. It made me who I am today, and that is a woman who is committed to working hard, having a clear perspective, putting my family first, and giving back." Bravo, Sandra Lee!