Sandra Lee is in a new relationship. The chef and author is now dating Ben Youcef, an actor and producer. The pair were recently spotted in St. Tropez and Paris, where Lee was sporting a large ring on her left ring finger. Naturally, engagement buzz ensued.
However, a source told People that, despite appearances, the engagement news was “just rumors.” The pair is indeed dating, though, having reportedly met in early March in Santa Monica, California. Lee’s new relationship comes after the end of her long-term, public partnership with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Lee and Cuomo were together for 14 years, where Lee acted as a de facto First Lady of New York. The pair lived together in Lee’s home in Westchester, New York for a number of years, but announced their breakup in September 2019, in a joint statement.
“Over the recent past, we have realized that our lives have gone in different directions and our romantic relationship has turned into a deep friendship,” Cuomo and Lee said at the time. “We will always be family and are fully supportive of each other and dedicated to the girls. Our personal lives remain personal and there will be no further comment.”
Now, Lee is starting a new chapter with Youcef. The actor has appeared in guest roles in shows including Law & Order, CSINY, NCIS: Los Angeles, and Chicago P.D. He was born in Algeria and speaks fluent Arabic. Youcef was previously married and has two children; per People, he and his wife filed for divorce in January 2020.
“It’s very early but they seem to have an undeniable connection,” said People‘s source. “But both are taking things slowly and enjoying getting to know each other.”
Lee made her first red carpet appearance since her breakup with Cuomo just two weeks ago, attending the the Luisa Via Roma and UNICEF Gala in Capri. Lee is a founding board member of the Los Angeles UNICEF chapter, as well as the charity’s sole International Emissary.
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