Kwanzaa Cake Scandal Rocks The Food World

December 17, 2010

Okay, so maybe my headline is a bit of an exaggeration, but after reading about Sandra Lee’s Kwanzaa Cake controversy on several food blogs, I couldn’t resist.

Several years ago, the somewhat-popular Food Network Star of Semi-Homemade Cooking with Sandra Lee fame came out with a pretty disturbing Kwanzaa Cake recipe — complete with corn nuts, pumpkin seeds and apple pie filling.

Not surprisingly, many folks in the food world were appalled, calling it “the cake that will make your eyeballs burst into flames,” “nastiest Kwanzaa cake ever,” “the infamously gross Kwanzaa cake” and even “an edible hate crime.” Check out the video below to judge for yourself.

However, this week’s controversy wasn’t about the cake itself (that’s old news, after all), but rather the fact that the true mastermind of this despicable creation “confessed her sins” before fleeing the country.

Denise Vivaldo, a seasoned food professional, chose to come clean via a colorful post on Huffington Post telling the world that she developed this, and several other recipes, and sold them to the Food Network maven.

Okay, I’m only going to say this once and then I’m leaving the country. Seriously, by the time this post is up, I’ll be in Thailand. I think it’s better for everybody.

Here’s the truth. I wrote and sold the recipe for the Kwanzaa cake to Sandra Lee and, while I’m confessing my soul, yes, for Christ’s sake, the Chanukah cake, too. There, I said it.

Forgive me Father.

A pretty bold and tacky move if you ask me. If you read the full confession, she goes on to write about even signing a contract with Lee, as well as ghost-writing recipes for several others, so it seems strange that she felt the need to divulge the truth at this point.

I agree with Pim Techamuanvivit of Chez Pim who posted the following on her Facebook page: Wow, please tell me I’m not the only one who found this incredibly distasteful. And I’m not talking about the Kwanzaa cake. I mean, I’m NO fan of Sandra Lee, but you don’t take her money and then turn around and trash her in print like this. Shame, really.

Curious to find out a little more about this self-proclaimed “seasoned food professional,” I clicked on Vivaldo’s bio and was surprised to see she has a fairly impressive culinary background. I can’t imagine food professionals are going to be lining up any time soon to work with this person.

What do you think? Was it really necessary for Vivaldo to spill her guts on this particular topic? Seems to me like an odd thing to confess, especially if you’ve chosen a profession as a recipe developer.