Paula Deen Back in Public; Houston Crowd Cheers Celebrity Chef

Image: Paula Deen Back in Public; Houston Crowd Cheers Celebrity Chef

Monday, 16 Sep 2013 10:00 AM

By Clyde Hughes

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Paula Deen made a tearful public appearance on Saturday for the first time since June, when she admitted to using racial slurs in the past and subsequently lost her endorsements and Food Network show.

The celebrity chef greeted a crowd of 1,500 people at a Houston cooking show, at the Metropolitan Cooking and Entertainment Show, where the crowd gave her a standing ovation.

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Deen has not been seen since the beginning of the summer, when she a former employee sued her for discrimination. When Deen acknowledged that she has used the N-word in the past, her media empire quickly crumbled; Food Network dropped her and she lost all of her partnerships that made her a multi-millionaire.

She ended up winning the part of the lawsuit that dealt with racism, but her personal brand has been irreparably damaged.

On Saturday, it didn’t appear that way, however, was droves of fans came out to see the star, bringing Deen to tears.

"These are tears of joy, y'all," Deen told the audience, according to the Houston Chronicle. "I've said all along that the one place I'd want to make my first step back out is Texas. Y'all's hearts are as big as your state."

Deen put on two cooking demonstrations, appearing with sons Bobby and Jamie Deen, who also have cooking shows, cookbooks and their own followings. It was familiar territory for Deen, who performed at the Houston cooking show for the third consecutive year.

Stephanie Young, who was in the crowd, told the Houston Chronicle she made Paula Deen sashes Friday night for her and her friends.

"We wanted to step it up because she's had a rough year," Young said. "We want her back on TV, and we love her."

Sherry Carter, one of the few African-Americans in the audience, said that the allegations did not change her opinion of Deen. Carter attended the show with her daughters Shana Randle and Michelle Sanders.

"When I first heard about it, my feeling was, she got caught," Carter said. "Just about everyone I know has used the word. At least she was honest about it."

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Related story:

Oprah on Paula Deen: 'Lots of People Use That Word Inappropriately

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