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Posted January 9, 2009 | Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily
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Food Network star has magazine printed at RR Donnelly plant

Sandra Lee
Sandra Lee poses with copies of her new magazine. Rich Cooley/Daily

Sandra Lee
Food Network star Sandra Lee, left, and Alyce Head, the magazine’s editor, look over the premiere issue of Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade. Rich Cooley/Daily

Sandra Lee
Food Network celebrity Sandra Lee, left, and Walt Edwards, right, vice president/plant manager at RR Donnelley in Strasburg, on Thursday pick up some of the first copies of Sandra Lee's premiere issue of Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade that is being printed at the Strasburg facility. Rich Cooley/Daily

By James Heffernan -- Daily Staff Writer

STRASBURG -- Food Network star and best-selling author Sandra Lee has built a highly successful franchise with her trademark semi-homemade, 70/30 philosophy -- 70 percent ready-made products with 30 percent fresh ingredients.

But when it came to her first-ever magazine, Lee, a tireless professional who cultivates her own image as meticulously as she does her TV show's time-saving recipes and elegant table settings, wouldn't settle for anything less than 100 percent effort.

"It's a perfect first issue," Lee said Thursday during a reception at the local RR Donnelley plant, where 280,000 copies are being printed and packaged for delivery. "It's exactly the message I wanted to communicate."

Lee seemed particularly pleased with the finished product's glossy cover, color matching and sharp resolution. She graciously took the time to pose for pictures on the production room floor, even bringing company employees into the act.

The bi-monthly Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade will focus on culinary and lifestyle solutions for those who want to stretch their time and resources while enriching their home life, according to publisher Hoffman Media.

The magazine is designed to give overextended homemakers ideas that Lee calls "aspirational, attainable and affordable."

She said she isn't concerned about launching the publication in the current economy. Her TV ratings and book sales are up, she said, and the magazine's central theme of stretching one's dollars with smart, simple solutions that produce dramatic results should resonate.

"We'll show you how you can feed a family of four, five nights a week, for $15," she said, "or completely change a room for the cost of a gallon of paint."

In fact, the recession should help draw in more readers, according to editor Alyce Head.

"We all know that the economic times are tough right now," she said, "but the content will serve as inspiration" for penny-pinching women and their families.

The magazine contains perforated recipe cards, and many of its decorating ideas use everyday items that can be found at Wal-Mart, Target, JCPenney or Costco.

RR Donnelley's relationship with Hoffman Media, based in Birmingham, Ala., dates to 2004. The commercial printer also produces Hoffman's Cooking with Paula Deen, featuring the southern-inspired recipes of Lee's fellow Food Network star.

Donnelley's Strasburg facility prints more than 200 publications, including Scientific American, Newsweek and The Economist.

Lee said it has been a goal to launch her own magazine since she first thumbed through the pages of Martha Stewart Living in 1992.

"I thought to myself, 'I can do this and do it cheaper.'"

She admits that producing a TV show isn't nearly as enjoyable -- "It's a lot of work," she said -- but has nonetheless introduced her to millions of people and helped build the Semi-Homemade brand. March 12 marks the "Sweet 16" anniversary of the franchise.

Her 70/30 philosophy and creative touches allow busy women to take "100 percent of the credit for something that looks, tastes and feels as if it were completely made from scratch," she said.

The 114-page February-March issue of Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade hits newsstands Feb. 3, and will be sold at major retailers across the country, for $4.99, with a one-year subscription offer of $19.98.

The print product, with offices in New York and Los Angeles, will be supplemented on the Web at www.semihomemademag.com.

After touring the local Donnelley facility Thursday morning, Lee and representatives of Hoffman Media dined at the Hotel Strasburg for lunch.

* Contact James Heffernan at jheffernan@nvdaily.com

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