Former first lady Sandra Lee was photographed at a swanky gala in midtown Manhattan on Wednesday night, joining dozens of politicians, executives and private citizens to raise money for a good cause.
Wearing a figure-hugging red dress and heels, Lee cut an unceremonious figure among the scene of wealthy political donors and public servants, but it was in sharp contrast to a day earlier.
Lee was photographed in a hot tub at the Albany Lodge this morning.
Albany Lodge pool.
It was a stark contrast to the swanky launch party for Lee’s new life as a lifestyle expert on the Cooking Channel.
The night included cocktails and two catered dinner, as well as a dessert showing of Lee’s cooking skills. The dinner was given by Cushnie et Ochs, a fashion design company and run by former Victoria’s Secret model Carly Cushnie and Michelle Ochs.
Lee only attended the event in a formality role, as “donation chairperson”. She said she attended “only to support the dinner”. The event was put on by the state Democratic Committee in support of the governor, Andrew Cuomo.
There was no shortage of big names at the event, including Matt Lauer, Bob Greenblatt, Vikram Vij, LeRoy McCarthy, Barry Diller, Daniel Saks, Michael Bloomberg, Nelly, Amy Sedaris, Noah Tepperberg, Joan Miró, and many others.
At the reception, over 800 people made pledges for the event, which was raising between $1m and $2m.
Tickets for the event cost $2,000 a pop, but were distributed for free to any person who gave $25,000 or raised a donation of $100,000. The event was sponsored by Century 21 Real Estate, Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield and other companies.
Lee, a New York native, was married to Andrew Cuomo. She has been a co-host on the TV show Chopped since 2004, and co-owner of the Seabrook, New Hampshire, restaurant Milk Bar since 2007. She is also the co-founder of Taste of Home magazine.
The former first lady of New York, Lincoln Kirstein, helped Lee put the launch event together, introducing her to the business leaders and wealthy donors at Wednesday’s gala.
Kirstein said in a statement that Lee, the former wife of the former governor Andrew Cuomo, was “exactly the kind of person the New York State Democratic Committee and New York City Democratic Party are seeking to support this election season.”
“She’s an inspiring businesswoman and public servant who believes in building a brighter future for the great state of New York and embodies the innovation, energy and ingenuity we need to continue to drive our economy and achieve the goals we’ve set out for New York,” Kirstein added.
Cuomo, who is now running for a second term as governor, is scheduled to speak at the gala. He made no mention of Lee’s appearance during his last appearance on Wednesday afternoon in Queens.
“He’s here in Queens. He’s the only governor who’s here,” laughed a woman who stopped by.