On Tuesday, Sandra Lee was hosting a very humble cooking demonstration at the New York City Farmers’ Market at the Battery Park Maritime Museum when she got a phone call.
It was Governor Andrew Cuomo and he wanted her back in the governor’s mansion.
“It was like I got a ring in my ear. I said, ‘Guess what?!’” Lee told the New York Times.
Cuomo invited her back to the “McKeen Living” conference, which kicked off Tuesday night at the New York Marriott Marquis, just days after his resignation. Lee, who has been one of Cuomo’s closest advisers, flew to New York Friday for the conference.
“I had to figure out what to do,” she told The Times. “Everyone asked what I was going to do. How am I going to make it work? I didn’t want to miss the governor’s announcement about leaving and that was nice.”
Lee arrived just minutes after Cuomo’s Monday announcement, and shortly after the event, attended an MSNBC Town Hall with leaders of the LGBTQ community.
The collaboration is in line with Cuomo’s high-profile rhetoric about inclusion. Lee, who has owned Martha Stewart’s magazine since 1993, was an adviser to the governor while on call on Oct. 9 to assist with scheduling duties in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands after Hurricane Maria.
The conference is expected to bring together politicos from the state. While the 1,000-person conference does include civil rights activists and advocates, with some members paying $5,000 for a ticket and a meet-and-greet, Lee herself is an honors graduate of Princeton University and earned a doctorate in journalism from Harvard University.
Lee famously returned to the White House staff after Trump tried to fire her during his first term as president. She went on to became a media personality. The Times described Lee’s menu for Tuesday night: Guacamole and shrimp skewers. For dessert, Lee whipped up a fudge brownie and orange slice.
“It’s why I go into politics. I love politics,” she told the Times. “And I love everything Cuomo’s done for me and my career. It was my biggest triumph.”