Celebrity chef and cooking show television host Paula Deen is a polarizing figure. She exudes Southern warmth and hospitality, but she is often criticized for touting fattening, unhealthy foods–especially in light of her diabetes diagnosis. More recently, Paula Deen has been accused of racism, which has attracted the wrath of many Americans.
A former manager at Paula’s restaurant in Savannah, Georgia filed a lawsuit against Paula and her brother for racial and sexual harassment. Although Paula publicly apologized for her racist remarks, her contract with the Food Network was not renewed, which has led to an outcry from her community of fans—for it seems that despite some of her questionable actions, there is still a lot to love about Paula. Here is our list of just 7 of Paula’s strong suits:
1.) She Has Overcome a Lot
Paul Deen has had a lot to overcame. Both of her parents died before she was 23 and her early marriage ended in divorce. She also suffered from agoraphobia and panic attacks, which is why she began to focus on cooking, as her stove was one of the few places where she felt safe.
2.) She’s a Self-Made Success
Paula may be the 4th top earning celebrity chef, taking in more than $17 million dollars annually, but she worked extremely hard to get where she is today. Becoming a single mom of two boys where money was tight, she started a family catering service, where her sons delivered the food. Her business eventually outgrew her kitchen and she opened a restaurant, and from there, her cookbook writing and TV career began to take off.
3.) She Embodies Southern Cuisine
Brought up under the tutelage of her grandmother, Paula Deen is known as the “Queen of Southern Cuisine.” Drawing from a diverse mix of traditions, including Native American, European, and African cultures, southern cuisine is central to the South’s image, personality, and character. Paula’s recipes embody the art of Southern cooking, helping the world to carry on this noble, down-home culinary tradition.
4.) She Has a Welcoming Personality
Paula Deen is not trying to be something she is not. She is kind, genuine, funny, friendly, and full of love. With a twinkle in her eye and a smile on her face, her warmth shows through on the screen, which explains why she is such a popular American icon. Many even comment that she “reminds them of their mom.”
5.) She Is Dedicated to Teaching People to Cook
Whether through her cookbooks or her TV shows, Paula is dedicated to teaching people how to cook delicious dishes. Unlike some more snooty chefs in the food world, Paula has a down-to-earth personality, her recipes are unintimidating, and her accompanying stories are uplifting.
6.) Her Recipes are Easy to Follow
Small-town life is what inspires Paula’s dishes, and her cookbooks and cooking shows feature easy-to-follow and uncomplicated recipes. From novice cooks to those who are simply looking for tasty meals that are easy to prepare, Paula’s recipes can be a quick solution.
7.) She Gives Back to the Community
Despite her success and blessings, Paula Deen has never forgotten her roots and strives to give back to their community. Paula is a member of the board of the Bethesda Home for Boys, works for America’s Second Harvest, and launched the Bag Lady Foundation to help women and families struggling with hunger across the country.
8.) She Sells High-Quality Food Products
Paula Deen offers a number of high-quality food products that any home chef would appreciate. Her offerings include spices, cookware, snack foods, and baked goods. A portion of the proceeds even goes to support the Bag Lady Foundation. What’s not to love about that?
Paula Deen is no stranger to controversy, but many people still love her work. Although Paula’s racist remarks are certainly a shame and she clearly made a huge mistake, perhaps, we should still give her the benefit of the doubt. After all, she is human like the rest of us, and we all are prone to errors of judgement. In many areas of her life, Paula has proved to be a kind and talented woman, and if nothing else, she deserves some respect for the mark she has made in the culinary world, as well as her community.