Paula Deen Makes a Loopy Return at Metro Cooking Houston

pauladeencry.jpg
Photo by Kaitlin Steinberg
"That's an ugly cry, Mama," Jamie Deen told his mother as she made her first public appearance in months.
Paula Deen's return to the spotlight after months in hiding was alternately emotional and confusing for both Deen and the audience who came to watch her demonstration at the Metro Cooking Houston show over the weekend.

Following that nasty scandal regarding Deen's use of racial slurs and the subsequent non-renewal of her Food Network cooking show and cancellation of her latest cookbook, Deen stayed out of the public eye for about three months. Though the scandal caused Deen to lose endorsements and angered some fans, the crowd gathered at Metro Cooking Saturday morning had nothing but love for the celebrity chef. Before Deen entered the auditorium, the crowd began chants of "Paula! Paula! Paula!" and held up signs in support of Deen and her family.

Deen's sons Bobby and Jamie were the first family members onstage. They thanked the crowd for coming, then Bobby introduced his mother, "the most caring and loving woman on this earth," to thunderous applause and a standing ovation.

Paula Deen then stepped onstage, tissues in hand, sobbing.

For at least two minutes, the supportive crowd continued standing and cheering while Deen dabbed at her eyes and tried to gain composure. When she finally spoke, Deen admitted her tears were tears of joy.

"This is my first time out in three months," Deen said, still misty-eyed. "The one place I would want to take my first step back out is Texas, because Texas is full of loving, forgiving folks, and y'all's hearts are as big as y'all's state."

Deen went on to acknowledge her "rough patch" this summer, before announcing, "I'm back!" and getting down to business. Sort of.

Throughout the demonstration, during which Deen and her husband and sons worked together to make chicken pot pie, Deen seemed disoriented and alternately giddy and crazy. She was probably overwhelmed by her first public appearance, but the word that kept coming to mind to describe her was "batty." She paced around the stage, forgetting what she had intended to do and redoing parts of the recipe that had already been done, acting like someone's batty -- but sweet -- Southern granny.

There were a number of culinary students seated in the back of the auditorium with the media, and they were overheard complaining that Paula didn't like the woven dough they made for the top of the pot pie.

"When we were making it, she told us to weave the strips tightly together," they said. "And now she's telling the audience we did it wrong. Whatever."

deenfans.JPG
Photo by Kaitlin Steinberg
These ladies also came last year to cheer on Paula Deen.
Part of the way into the pot pie demonstration, the media was asked to leave due to "Deen family rules," which note that public appearances should be treated like concerts, during which only paying ticketholders get to enjoy the entire performance. It seemed odd to most of the media in attendance, especially considering the auditorium was far from full.

Back in the main Metro Cooking showroom, a group of ladies was decked out in their best "We support Paula" garb, including sashes, masks bearing Paula Deen's visage and a banner that read, "DEEN BROTHERS WE SUPPORT YOUR MAMA." Other fans wore "Team Paula Deen" shirts and talked about how happy they were that Deen was back in public and doing well.

Whether or not she's indeed doing well is debatable, but she's clearly lost weight, so she looks healthier and seems happy to be back in front of a devoted and forgiving crowd.

It's not yet clear what Deen's reception will be on the national stage, but Texas is happy to welcome her back, diabetes-inducing peanut butter pie and all.

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51 comments
Īáñ Œ Gøødrüm
Īáñ Œ Gøødrüm

i'd like to remind everyone defending paula deen that she literally organized a slavery-themed wedding. think about that for a second. what if she'd done a holocaust-themed wedding? would you people be so voracious in protecting her honor? something tells me "no"

Jerry Volkin
Jerry Volkin

Most respectful normal people wont "put themselves in her position" and then be insensitive enough to re-enter the limelight without expecting repercussions. I was there at the exhibit part of the food show and peeked in to the stage area when she was there. Lots of empty seats. Many seats filled with people covering the event. Most of the cheering was from her family members trying to liven the crowd. It WAS weird.

Joshua Justice
Joshua Justice

This is a lot of effort put into defending some rich old TV cook. Do you ladies write Twilight fanfic too? because that seems about as worthwhile an endeavor.

paval
paval

On Paula Deen: her cooking and products are nothing special when you live in a city like Houston. They are not very good, they are for the most part just standard fare and Houstonians, as well as other cities graced with a superior lively, varied and eclectic food scene should flock to local chefs instead of following the positive or negative actions and phrases of an ageing, almost senile appearing former shooting star of food TV. 

On readers of this blog: Leveled discussion is a sign of civilization and even though some of the terms used by KS to describe her impression of Paula Deen's actions at the show, may arise some offense in some people (bad, bad KS, your mother should have taught you better than talking about an ageing person as "batty"), paying back in the same kind of currency with poorly chosen words is not precisely a sign of differentiation and better education and style.

On cultural wars: I believe that Paula Deen, just like me, uses the bathroom for some number 2 business and sometimes also has some number 2 level things to say, just like me. However if I say it, I may offend, make laugh or alike a max. of ten people. Deen with her following will offend or entertain a few million people. Some responsibility comes with that. But with the cultural wars raging in the US, people that say stupid things get for some reason put on the pedestal by each of the teams waging the war, even though it is clearly stupid what they say. On the one side I can think of the owner of Chick fil A, Sarah Palin and Paula Deen and on the other side Michael Moore, Rev. Jackson and some others. Instead of getting them to think about something stupid they said, they get declared as saints of the movement, further encouraging them to produce more news worthy stupid things to say. This unfortunately lowers the level even more and further breaks apart the two groups fighting a war over culture. Unfortunately the intelligent people do not get much press and this affects the society deeper than is currently visible, because it is the loud people that get attention. 

And that Paula Deen got so much flak for what she said, does not surprise me much. The higher one rises, the deeper one falls when the curtain goes down. Sometimes mediocre peoples rise to the top, achieved by rear kissing, is at some time finished and then the fall is even worse than for some one who really worked their way up. (And I do not refer to Paula Deen as mediocre at all. It was a term I used in general to make my case) 

Let us also remember that Paula Deen hired a PR company to restore her reputation and probably her financial value and wealth. Her love for Houston is most likely authentic, but I am sure that if another city would have been as gentle as this one for her first time in public, that city could have been chosen too. Professionals in that business do not do random tries. And Houston is gentle to her, because Houston still has plenty of people that think like some haters on the Miss America twitter blast off. That American values are a love for guns, patriotism, butter and gravy. 



Aggie_Kelli
Aggie_Kelli

It's not Houston Press writers I'm worried about, it's all of you commenters.  What a rude bunch of people JUDGING where they have no place or point of view to judge up.  This is a blog people, where other people blog about what they want to talk about.  If you don't like it, go start your own.  I'm truly appalled by the behavior and content of what you all have written, this is definitely not the reception the people of Houston need to be portraying, what are we, Dallas?  Get a grip.

metatronarchetype
metatronarchetype

If this article had been written by a man, commenters would be screeching over the use of pejoratives such as loopy, crazy, and batty to describe a female, but since something like 95% of EOW's writers are also females, I suppose it's not misogyny!  It's like blacks using the n-word, right?  They get a pass.

I wonder:  why does the EOW writing staff demonstrate such a shocking lack of male/female diversity, HP?  Come to think of it, how many of your writers are PoC?

Lyndsey Stang
Lyndsey Stang

Nah but this isn't the only article they have posted like this. While living in Houston, I met lots of people with the same attitude so it's hard not too say it's the culture when comparing other cities to Houston. But that's my experience throughout 17 years there.

Marionsam Azzalini
Marionsam Azzalini

And that she's a good hearted woman with great intentions... Sorry I'm not a perfect speller my bad dang

Amanda Musquiz
Amanda Musquiz

Who cares how her name is spelled? you know her name, her brand, her products. That's all that matters.

aomusquiz
aomusquiz

Being a diabetic can do that to you. It's not uncommon at all when your sugars aren't where they need to be. Not to mention the stress that is most likely surrounding things like this and her entire life in recent months. I personally don't find anything here that is alarming. Glad she came out and got such amazing support from fans in Houston.

Jennifer Masters
Jennifer Masters

hey now. no need to blame all of Houston for one [iconic yet rapidly disintegrating in integrity] rag.

Marionsam Azzalini
Marionsam Azzalini

Hey it don't matter how I spell her name her cakes,pies,etc. tastes better than my cookin lol

Lyndsey Stang
Lyndsey Stang

No, she didn't have to agree to an appearance but she had the guts to do it, much more than most would do. Her demeanor seems very reasonable considering nerves and how she probably thought she may have been treated. Imagine being gone for several months and planning a show then questioning whether she will get attacked on stage and after the show. It's not easy. It really doesn't matter whether one has a disease or not. She can promote what she wants. Does that mean reporting on a person the way it was done is cool? No. It's more cruel. Judging asks for more judgement and that seems to be the theme here. You described her as batty, crazy and loopy. What exactly is the purpose of the Houston Press' reporting? It seems to come out in a way to persuade the reader to agree with certain opinions. These opinions are quite rude no matter the subject.

Sandra Hickman Simmons
Sandra Hickman Simmons

I am sure she is agreeing to public appearances to try to put her company back together. Frivolous lawsuits are so damaging even when unwarranted. The plaintiff stated once the lawsuit was dismissed, ""During a very difficult period in my life the Deen family gave me hope and the opportunity to work to build a brighter future for my family and me," Jackson said in a statement to TODAY. "I assumed that all of my complaints about the workplace environment were getting to Paula Deen, but I learned during this matter that this was not the case. The Paula Deen I have known for more than eight years, is a woman of compassion and kindness and will never tolerate discrimination or racism of any kind toward anyone. I now know that the workplace environment issues that I raised are being reviewed and will in the future no longer be at issue. I wish Ms. Deen and her family all the best in all of their future endeavors and I am very pleased that this matter has been now been resolved and can now be put behind us." Again, I see nothing weird about Paula Deen crying. You'd be crying too if everything you'd built was virtually destroyed for no reason. Read the plaintiff's statement above? Wow.

Lyndsey Stang
Lyndsey Stang

Forgive and forget. She is a sweet woman whose friends even support her. Put your feet in her shoes and you'd be emotional too. The Houston Press are a bunch of morons. They have always made fun of people for laughs. I'm glad I left that city. Instead of just reporting what happened, they went into insults. Great job.

Eating Our Words: The Houston Press Food Blog
Eating Our Words: The Houston Press Food Blog

She certainly didn't have to agree to a public appearance. Her reaction to the crowd was indeed strange. I understand she's been through a lot (most of it self-inflicted, in my opinion), but her demeanor during the entire show was just odd. The other news outlets who reported on her appearance said much the same thing. My lack of respect for her comes from the fact that she continues to tout high-calorie, high-sugar recipes while at the same time being a spokesperson for a diabetes drug that helps treat the same people who eat her food. That seems off to me.

Sandra Hickman Simmons
Sandra Hickman Simmons

Do you have an editor? Maybe this article and the introduction to it here on facebook needs another look.

Shanna Bonana-Butler
Shanna Bonana-Butler

Sounds like she might have taken a little anxiety medication, lol who knows, maybe she was just nervous

Paula Murphy
Paula Murphy

Not sure that saying the auditorium was"far fro full" is very accurate - the room was set with 1500 chairs and there were about 90-100 empty chairs.

Adrian Taylor Barnard
Adrian Taylor Barnard

Ugh. Sick of heating about Paula Deen already! An old white woman from Georgia said something racist? SAY IT AIN'T SO!

Sandra Hickman Simmons
Sandra Hickman Simmons

It was weird? Are you kidding me? Put yourself in her situation and see if you even show up for a public appearance. I think she deserves more respect that a comment from you saying, "It was weird."

Kelley Dellafave
Kelley Dellafave

Her looking thin does not indicate that she is healthier. On the contrary, I am sure.

Glenn Barnett
Glenn Barnett

What a silly thing to say that it was weird - this lady has been foolish but more so she was targeted by her detractors. Trade places with her and you would sob too... "It was weird" no your lack of empathy is weird.

Texano78704
Texano78704

Teary eyed, as if she were the one who suffered injury. Yes indeed, Texas is full of loving, forgiving cultural supremacists.

H_e_x
H_e_x

@Joshua Justice A Twilight fanfic is being made into a movie, so yes, probably.

Granny
Granny

@Joshua Justice  Are you as big a jerk as you always come off in your sad comments, Joshua?  The village failed you. You are the child left behind.  You were raised without a single shred of kindness.

KaitlinS
KaitlinS topcommenter

@Lyndsey Stang You absolutely don't have to agree. We were just reporting it the way we saw it. We stand by that, particularly because a number of other local and national news organizations who covered the event said similar things.

KaitlinS
KaitlinS topcommenter

@Sandra Hickman Simmons I personally take more issue with her cooking than the allegations of racism (though her plantation wedding comment was a bit disconcerting). I think Anthony Bourdain said it best in an interview for TV Guide, in which he expressed his opinion that Deen’s foods made her “the worst, most dangerous person” on the Food Network. He said, "She revels in unholy connections with evil corporations, and she’s proud of the fact that her food is fucking bad for you. If I were on at seven at night and loved by millions of people at every age, I would think twice before telling an already obese nation that it’s OK to eat food that is killing us.”

But this article wasn't about any of that. It was about Deen's appearance and the fact that she seemed overly emotional and totally loopy. If you've suffered a trauma and aren't ready to go back out in public, don't do it.

KaitlinS
KaitlinS topcommenter

@Lyndsey Stang Thanks for continuing to read even though you don't live here anymore!

KaitlinS
KaitlinS topcommenter

@Eating Our Words: The Houston Press Food Blog Correction: Paula Deen no longer works for Novo Nordisk after a mutual decision that stemmed from the lawsuit.

KaitlinS
KaitlinS topcommenter

@Sandra Hickman Simmons We stand by the fact that walking out on stage and sobbing for two minutes is weird.

johnnybench
johnnybench topcommenter

@Sandra Hickman Simmons Bigots deserve very little respect. 

metatronarchetype
metatronarchetype

@Brittany G. BassettIt's not your city.  Get off your high horse before the thin atmosphere way up there suffocates you.  

johnnybench
johnnybench topcommenter

@Glenn Barnett That poor lady.  It must be awfully exhausting to be exposed as an inveterate bigot.  What an inspiration!


Aggie_Kelli
Aggie_Kelli

@metatronarchetype There is a difference between sarcasm and just downright absolute bullying and degrading someone.  I believe you should turn that comment around on yourself you disgusting idiot.

haulitaway
haulitaway

@KaitlinS Do you consult every other news organization before you write?  I have been very generous with my time given to this blog since you came on, KS, in light of what you have so far done here.  But enough's enough.  This blog has just gone stupid.  Over and out.  

metatronarchetype
metatronarchetype

@KaitlinS Anthony Bourdain, cigarette smoker, professional glutton, and former smackhead, really has no place lecturing people on food health or any other sort of health.  Nor does someone who writes for CNN have a leg to stand on when pointing the finger at others for being connected with evil corporations.

aomusquiz
aomusquiz

@KaitlinS I don't find that weird at all. She's an older woman who has feelings and can be overwhelmed by support and a loving reception. I've been reading through your comments in reply to others and I find you to be rude, sarcastic and your comments aren't useful most of the time. So please, insert a witty response after I click "Post Comment." I look forward to it.


KaitlinS
KaitlinS topcommenter

@haulitaway @KaitlinS No, I did consult them afterwards though. It's common practice for reporters to read what their peers write.

aomusquiz
aomusquiz

@KaitlinS @aomusquiz It is HPs "schtick". but most of your writers are intelligent AND sarcastic/funny...you missed one part of that in my opinion. But I'll let you and others determine which part. And honey, I'm not trying to get a rise out of you. But I'm sorry you misinterpreted my comments to mean that you could have that much of my time or energy. I should really watch the impression I provide.


KaitlinS
KaitlinS topcommenter

@aomusquiz @KaitlinS I'm sorry you don't find my comments useful. It honestly is our intent to use the comment section to provide insight into why we write what we write. As far as the sarcasm? Well, that's kind of our schtick. 

Though I feel that challenging someone to be rude in the comments for the purpose of getting a rise maybe isn't the best use of this space either...

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