In the Kitchen: Paula Deen

By Fabiana Santana

about_paula1Howdy y’all!

It’s a greeting as welcoming as “dinner’s ready” and pretty much means the same thing. And when you hear it, you know what’s coming – good home cooking by Paula Deen. Her hearty laugh is as infectious as her recipes are addicting and when she’s on the screen hosting her Food Network show Paula’s Best Dishes, you know a good time, and good food, are all on the menu.

But the southern loving Paula Deen, whose drawl drips with as much as sweetness as sticky buns in the morning, wasn’t always the happy go lucky hostess you see on TV.

“Everyone has a beginning, and mine really starts in my Grandmother Paul’s kitchen. I promise you, she knew everything you ever needed to know about making the perfect Southern meal. Every day I was amazed at all the things she knew and shared with me – cooking techniques, tips, secret recipes, and, most importantly laughter, life lessons, and love! Of course I didn’t know it at the time, but those would be the things that would always pull me through,” Paula says.

She explains a time of trouble and confusion, when the death of her parents followed by separation from her husband led Paula to feelings of anxiousness that literally locked her in her own house.

“I was 40 years old and was having such severe panic attacks that I literally could not leave my house, becoming a prisoner in my own home.”

But then one day, things changed for Paula, and taking a lesson from her Grandmother Paul, she took control of her life and with a mere $200, she started the business that would change her life. The Bag Lady was a lunch delivery and catering service that she eventually turned into a full-service restaurant called The Lady & Sons.

“During that time I’ve had my first cookbook ‘discovered’ and more published, had the honor of receiving the ‘International Meal of the Year’ designation by USA Today, of having not one, not two, but three of my own shows on the Food Network, and opened up another restaurant – Uncle Bubba’s Oyster House – with my little brother Bubba.”

Paula believes that none of the good she has experienced could have existed without the bad. She says she has “embraced both the heartache and joy” and the key is knowing that you can take control of your life, even when things seem like they can’t get any worse.

Paula’s business continues to flourish with a series of successful cookbooks: Paula Deen and Friends: Living It Up, Southern Style; The Lady and Sons Savannah Country Cookbook; The Lady and Sons, Too; and The Lady and Sons Just Desserts, and she serves as editor in chief of her magazine “Cooking With Paula Deen.”

Deen has won Daytime Emmy Awards for “Outstanding Lifestyle Host” and “Outstanding Lifestyle Program.” And while she is grateful for it all, her twitter quote probably sums up Paula the best.

“Cooking and family are the greatest gifts. Love and Best Dishes, ya’ll!”

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