Sandra Lee and Ben Youcef Are 'Inseparable,' Says Source: 'Like a First Love for Them Both'

Friends of Sandra Lee and Ben Youcef are affectionately calling them "Bendra," a source tells PEOPLE

Sandra lee and boyfriendBen Yousef
Photo: Argentum Visuals

Sandra Lee and boyfriend Ben Youcef certainly appear to be enjoying their time in New York City.

The couple were photographed on Sunday in Central Park, getting cozy and cuddly while taking in the crisp fall day.

Both wore sweaters and matching grey scarfs, walking with their arms around one another while strolling through the popular Big Apple destination. They were even snapped sharing a kiss as they sat together on one of Central Park's boulders.

A source close to the pair tells PEOPLE in this week's issue that Lee and Youcef have been quietly spending much of the fall in N.Y.C.

"They're inseparable," the insider says of the lifestyle icon and her actor-producer beau.

Friends of the couple, the source adds, are affectionately calling them "Bendra."

"It's almost like a first love for both of them," the source says.

Sandra lee and boyfriendBen Yousef
Argentum Visuals

PEOPLE first confirmed that Lee, 55, and Youcef, 42, were dating back in August.

"They became friends when they met at a Santa Monica restaurant in March. It's very early but they seem to have an undeniable connection," a source told PEOPLE at the time. "But both are taking things slowly and enjoying getting to know each other."

"Meeting each other during COVID was challenging," the source continued. "He's become her friend and loving confidante quickly."

Sandra Lee, Ben Youcef
Sandra Lee, Ben Youcef. Amy Sussman/Getty Images; Michael Bezjian/WireImage

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The Food Network star was previously with former Governor Andrew Cuomo for 14 years, the two announcing their split in September 2019.

"I think she needed someone completely different from Andrew," a close friend of the cook previously told PEOPLE. "It took her two years for her to even consider dating again as she wanted to be sure she could make herself happy and to heal before she brought someone in her life."

Youcef, meanwhile, separated from his wife in 2019, before they later filed for divorce in January 2020.

"He seems to be a good match as he has a deep understanding of all of Sandra's worlds from her professional life to her dedicated focus on family and commitment to philanthropy," the insider said.

A week after their relationship broke, rumors swirled that the two were engaged — though their engagement still has not been confirmed.

"They are really enjoying each other, but it is just rumors for now," a source said back in August.

For more on the pair, pick up this week's issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.

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