Paula Deen begged for America’s forgiveness three months ago as she watched her empire crumble around her for admitting that she had used a racial slur, and now she gets a standing ovation as Deen made her first public appearance in Texas.
The cooking star ascended the stage to join her sons, Jamie and Bobby Deen, at the Metropolitan Cooking & Entertaining Show in Houston on Saturday.
The disgraced celebrity chef welled up when she reflected on what she called “a rough patch” that she had experienced this summer.
“I’ve said all along that the one place that I would want to make my first step back out was Texas,” she told the approximately 1,400 people in the audience. “Y’all’s hearts are as big as your state.”
The two-day event featured cooking demonstrations, tasting workshops, book signings and appearances by Food Network celebrities, according to its website. Deen held two cooking demonstrations, and tickets cost up to $400 to see her at the show.
The Southern chef, 66, has tried to keep a low profile after Lisa Jackson, who worked for Deen at her Savannah, Ga., restaurant sued her for racial and sexual discrimination.
Last month, a federal judge in Georgia threw out the racial discrimination claims against Deen, who then reached a settlement with Jackson. Still, much of the damage had already been done to her reputation, as companies like Smithfield, Wal-Mart, Target and Home Depot dropped lucrative endorsement deals with the Southern chef.
But could Deen’s appearance signal that she is gearing up to make a comeback?
The chef took to Twitter to let her million-plus followers know that she’d be appearing on an episode of her son’s Food Network show, “Home for Dinner with Jamie Deen,” this morning. She also is scheduled appear at The Metropolitan Cooking & Entertaining Show when it stops in Dallas on Saturday, Sept. 21, and Sunday, Sept. 22, with Bobby Deen.
In addition, Deen plans to be at a number of book signings at her various restaurants in Savannah, Ga., for the launch of Jamie Deen’s new cookbook through the end of the year, according to her website.