While semi-homemade Sandra Lee may have unleashed the Kwanzaa cake upon the world, she didn't actually write the recipe. That blame credit goes to cookbook author Denise Vivaldo. Her mea culpa has been taken down from the Huffington Post where it originally appeared, but nothing ever truly disappears from the interwebs ...
In my defense, I must start at the beginning. I've been developing recipes for cookbook authors and food companies for over twenty years ... I sell recipes from $100-$400 dollars apiece plus the cost of groceries. I love it. Not only is it fun, creative and challenging, I get to study all kinds of food. Most projects are just plain terrific. I'm humbled by the amazing people I've gotten to write and work for.
But (isn't there always a but?)...wait for it...wait for it.
One night in my office, at least 10 years ago, my phone rang. I answered it. If only I had noticed that my dogs started to howl and blood mysteriously started seeping from the walls. Alas, I did not. So excited to close the sale, I made an appointment with a personal assistant to meet "the next Martha Stewart, only bigger." I was happy to think about this latest project that would help feed my assistants.
It turned out that the premise of this cookbook would be "delicious desserts with nothing made from scratch." This book would be the second in a series. The first book was almost done, but apparently the writer, food stylist and recipe tester from that first book had all gone sailing in the Bermuda Triangle to celebrate and had disappeared. The books were being self-published by Ms. Lee, unless she could find a publisher, ASAP. She really, really wanted a publishing partner.
I 'm not sure if it was because my head was spinning 360 degrees and my retinas had become burned by some horrible smoke that seemed to fill the room whenever she moved, but I wasn't grasping the concept. "No fresh food. Just canned food. Nothing fresh, do you understand me? All food out of cans or boxes, so it's easy for the homemaker ...and write the brand name of the cans or boxes right in the recipe."
I assumed it was the ten years of smoking dope in my formative years that was making me stupid. Then I thought, okay, this is another slant on The Cake Mix Doctor, by Anne Byrn. A book that had been wildly successful. I can do this.
Before you say a word, let me say one more thing in my defense.
I have people that depend on me for their livelihood. Assistants, designers, photographers, and especially my American Express Platinum card. I sign the checks, so I have to bring in the money. To make my small business work, I took the job. First time I ever signed a contract. Of all the truly big stars and real celebrities I've worked with, it was always just a handshake and my reputation for getting the job done that created the deal. To put it simply, I deliver what I say I will.
Thirteen months past and after exactly 151 recipes, I tried to fake my death.
Ms. Lee called and though we were done with the book, she needed at least ten extra angel food cakes for "fun" sugary holiday times to sell to a magazine ... Please ask yourself, what would you have done in my place? See how that Kwanzaa cake is looking better from my perspective? I will tell you truly, the candles were her idea.
I guess I imagined something more refined. And I know the Corn Nuts were disgusting, but she didn't. As a matter of fact, the more tasteless the recipes got the more she liked them, the faster she approved them, and I could get home and drink some medium-priced wine after our meetings. She's not a good role model for abstinence.
I've never watched any of the videos on YouTube. My priest says, "Never call the devil."
And to think, Anthony Bourdain was afraid of her. Crap, he was never even close.
Woman behind ‘Sandra Lee Kwanzaa Cake’ Explains Debacle | EURweb