Thursday, June 3, 2010

Foodista Interviews Chef Sandra Lee

To say that my day was exciting would be an understatement, as I can't express in words how incredible it was. Why was it so memorable? Well it mostly had to do with the fact that I got to interview one of my Food Network all-time favorite personalities, Sandra Lee.  For those of you who know Sandra, you'll recognize her bright, smiling face from popular Food Network shows such as Semi-Homemade Cooking and Money Saving Meals.

I first got introduced to Sandra's shows by my mom who's an avid fan of her creative personality and her wonderful money-saving tips, especially when it comes to entertaining and creating beautiful tablescapes.  Sandra always manages to come up with a fun, new tip that seems really innovative but is very simple to execute. She's ingenious in that way, and like all masters of their trade, she makes her cooking & entertaining tips look really easy.

But let's get back to the interview...

Interview Focus:
Why did Sandra want to talk to me, you might be wondering? Well she's just signed on to be StarKist's spokesperson for their tuna products and she's embarking on a national Health & Happiness tour, which aims to educate consumers about the health benefits of tuna.  The tour kicked off today in NYC's Madison Square Park with an appearance from Sandra and a plethora of fun activities meant to get consumers engaged with StarKist's products. 

A fun way in which they've elevated the excitement and energy of this tour is by incorporating a Fish-Kiss Photo Booth, where consumers can make funny kissy faces and upload them to Facebook.  For each person who uploads their picture and shares it with the world, StarKist will donate $1 to Share Our Strength - a charity that I love and support and that aims to end childhood hunger.

But in addition to all the tuna love, I tried to incorporate a couple of Queens related questions, to give a nod to you guys and to the wonderful neighborhood that we so adore.  You'll see in the video that Sandra's answers are passionate, positive and her genial attitude is contagious. I also wanted to note that I was her first interview after Good Day New York, in which Sandra officially announced the start of her StarKist tour. How exciting!

The Setting
My interview with Sandra was held in a cozy, Upper East Side diner/coffee shop called the Silver Star.  It was a friendly, unassuming place that served typical comforting food and when I got there, I was happy to see that Sandra was enjoying a breakfast of scrambled eggs and crispy bacon.  This woman knows how to eat and it was nice to see that.

I was greeted with a warm hand shake and a smile, immediately followed by an invitation to get some food or drink.  Sandra's hospitality was so genuine that even though I wasn't hungry or thirsty, I couldn't refuse her offer and ordered an iced tea.  We talked a bit and enjoyed some casual banter before the cameras started rolling and when that happened, Sandra got down to business.

Here's the video for you to enjoy.  Due to a technical difficulty, the video was cut after 5 and a half minutes.  However, I couldn't let you miss any of it and am providing the commentary below in writing.

Sandra Lee Interview Video

Additional Questions not on the Video:

1. Me - Do you have an idea for a fun, creative and inexpensive tablescape that you can share with Foodista's readers?

SL - Yes, in fact I thought of one just this morning. You're the first one to hear about it.  I thought to do a tablescape inspired by the show the Deadliest Catch on the Discovery Channel and my love of fish, especially tuna.  This fun tablescape can consist of two large boats that you can place on either side of the table, mesh place settings that can resemble nets and also cute little anchors for the actual place settings.  I think this could work really well for a boy's birthday party or for Father's Day!

2.  Me - Can you tell us about a healthy, semi-homemade dessert that you like to prepare in the summertime?

SL - Well I think berries are really great, especially since they're now in season.  It's really smart to stock up on your berries now and freeze them for future cold months. Think of it, if you buy them fresh they cost about $.99/lb and frozen, they're about $1.99 - $2.99/lb.  What I love to do is prepare fresh blueberries very simply and macerate them in some sugar.  You let them sit like that for a while, and all the wonderful juices come out and form this incredible dessert.  It's not too sweet, it's very healthy and so delicious.

3.  Me - If you could professionally collaborate with a culinary visionary (either dead or alive) who would it be and why?

SL - Yes I do have someone in mind and she really inspires me.  She's a talented woman by the name of Donna Hay who also has a well known food brand in Australia.  A previous contributor of Australian Vogue, this lady has impeccable style and knows her food.  I know I probably should've picked someone American but she's who I'm dying to work with.  And someone who's dead...well Julia Child. She would've been a trip to collaborate with!

And there you have it - Sandra's full interview. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.  Sandra gave me a warm, parting hug and some nice compliments that made my day.

If you'd like get involved in StarKist's fish-kiss photos for a good cause, click here.  For more information about the Health & Happiness tour, click here.


  1. Congrats on the interview, Judith! :)

  2. What an awesome opportunity!! Awesome day, to say the least. Congrats :)

  3. Thanks so much crunchygranolagal!

  4. did you receive any gifts from starkist?

  5. I received 2 packets of tuna :)



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