Paula Ann Hiers American chef, cookbook author, and television personality. Deen resides in Savannah, Georgia, where she and her sons Jamie and Bobby Deen own and operate The Lady & Sons restaurant and Paula Deen’s Creek House. She is the author of fifteen cookbooks.
In Albany, Georgia, Deen was born Paula Ann Hiers, the daughter of Corrie A. Hiers and Earl Wayne Hiers, Sr. Deen was 19 years old when her father unexpectedly passed away at the age of 40, and her mother passed away four years later at the age of 44. Prior to the death of her father, Paula, at the age of 18, wed Jimmy Deen. In 1967, they had their first son James (“Jamie”), and in 1970, their second son Bobby (“Bobby”). In her twenties, Deen struggled with depression and agoraphobia and began spending more time preparing food for her family because she could do so without leaving the house. Irene Paul, Deen’s grandmother, was the one who taught her the art of traditional Southern cooking. Deen defines Southern cooking as “genuine farmhouse cuisine, something that takes all day.” Irene Paul was the one who influenced Deen’s cooking style. In 1989, Deen and her husband Jimmy ended their marriage and divorced. Needing to support herself, her two sons, and her younger brother Earl (“Bubba”), Deen experimented with numerous businesses before launching The Bag Lady, a catering service where her sons Jamie and Bobby made and delivered lunches to office workers.
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Following the success of her home-based business, in 1991 Deen took over and renamed the restaurant at the Best Western on Abercorn Street in Savannah as The Lady. After five years at the Best Western in January 1996. Deen and her sons Jamie and Bobby founded their own restaurant, The Lady & Sons, on West Congress Street in downtown Savannah. The restaurant relocated to the old White Hardware building on Whitaker within a few years. Deen opened buffets at Harrah’s Casino Tunica in Mississippi, Harrah’s Cherokee casino in North Carolina, Horseshoe Southern Indiana, and Harrah’s Joliet in Illinois. In 2013, shortly after Deen was booted off the Food Network, they underwent a rebranding. Deen was also a co-owner of Uncle Bubba’s Oyster House in Savannah, Georgia. The restaurant was shuttered in April 2014 and reopened as Paula Deen’s Creek House in June 2017. In 2015, Deen created Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. In June 2017, she opened a second location in Broadway at the Beach in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. In 2018, Deen launched two Paula Deen restaurants in Texas, however the following year, both locations closed. Deen built a Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen in Nashville, Tennessee in 2020, and another in Panama City Beach, Florida in 2021.
Food Network and other television programming
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In 1999, a friend of Deen’s connected her to Gordon Elliott, the founder of Food Network. Elliott brought her on a series of Doorknock Dinners episodes throughout the city. In early 2001, Deen was invited to film a pilot titled Afternoon Tea. Paula’s Home Cooking, which launched in November 2002, was afterwards given to Deen by the network, which appreciated it. Paula’s Home Cooking was initially recorded in Elliott’s home in Millbrook, New York, and afterwards at Deen’s home in Savannah, Georgia.
On May 19, 2010, in Washington, Deen threw the opening pitch before the game between the New York Mets and the Washington Nationals. Deen hosted two additional Food Network programs, namely Paula’s Party and Paula’s Best Dishes.
The Food Network premiered Paula’s Party in 2006 and Paula’s Best Dishes in June 2008. In March 2006, an episode of the Food Network’s Chefography program aired a televised biography of Deen.
Due to a scandal surrounding Deen’s admission that she had used racial slurs on social media, The Food Network stated on June 21, 2013, that they will not extend her contract. Deen established the Paula Deen Channel on Roku in March 2015. In September 2015, it was revealed that Deen would be competing in the 21st season of Dancing with the Stars. The professional dancer Louis van Amstel was her partner. The couple was removed from the competition in the sixth week, placing ninth overall. In October of 2016, Paula Deen debuted her syndicated television program Positively Paula. Deen also appears on the home shopping network ShopHQ, where she sells a variety of products, including kitchen appliances and food items.
On April 7, 2021, it was revealed that Paula Deen will serve as a guest host for the eleventh season of Masterchef, which premieres in June 2021. Emeril Lagasse and other renowned chefs, including Paula Deen, will assist Gordon Ramsay in guiding 15 amateur cooks through a series of tasks.
Disputes Involving Racial Slurs
As part of a lawsuit brought against her by former Uncle Bubba’s Seafood & Oysters general manager Lisa Jackson, Deen admitted to using the n-word in the past.
“We simply do not use that word anymore,” she said in the same deposition. Since the 1960s, the South has undergone significant transformation. In addition, my children and brother oppose to the use of this term to describe cruel or unkind behavior. as well as me.”
Deen wanted her black employees to be treated like slaves.
For the wedding she was planning, Jackson allegedly claimed Deen wanted her African-American crew to act in an unexpected manner. It was actually rather remarkable. This restaurant reflected a particular period in American history… after the Civil War, during the Civil War, and prior to the Civil War… Not only black men, but also black women… I would describe them as slaves. During a deposition, Deen was cited by Radar as mentioning the party.
“The use of racial slurs is not acceptable to Ms. Deen. In anticipation of her day in court, she is full of expectancy.”
Dora Charles, a longtime Deen employee, told the New York Times: Deen wanted her to wear an Aunt Jemima-inspired costume and ring a bell when the food was ready. “I answered, ‘I’m not ringing no bell. This item reminds me of what we used to do in the past.”
She Publishes a Photo of Her Son Appearing to Be in “Brownface”
In a photograph of her and her son Bobby costumed as Lucy and Ricardo (who was of Latino heritage), Bobby appeared to be painted many shades darker, leading many to conclude that he had employed “brownface.” Deen promptly removed the photo from her social media channels.