Positively Paula


Published:

I'm a very blessed girl,” said Southern chef and television personality Paula Deen, recounting her rags to riches fairytale. (And, yes, she calls herself a “girl.”) During her 70 years, she’s endured multiple peaks and valleys, most recently the challenges that she faced in 2013. “How did it feel to take time off a few years ago?” I asked. “I never left!” Paula replied.

She lost her parents early on. Raised two sons and a younger brother while suffering from agoraphobia.

“I was so fearful of something happening to somebody else I loved that I couldn’t live my life,” she explained during a recent interview at her Wilmington Island home. “I let it cripple me for 20 years.” She recalls the precise moment, however, when everything changed.   

 

“I’VE ALWAYS BEEN ONE TO LAUGH AT MYSELF, BUT I REALIZE NOT EVERYBODY IS LIKE THAT.”

“I got up one morning and it was like I flicked on a light switch. The Serenity Prayer went through my head. And it was like I’d heard it for the very first time, God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage the change the things that I can, and please God, give me the wisdom to know the difference. I started getting better. And I asked myself, ‘Paula, honey, what are you good at? You can’t sing or dance.”’ Paula cackles when I remind her she survived five rounds on Dancing With the Stars in 2015.

But she considered herself a good cook. So she took her last $200, bought a business license, a cooler, $50 worth of groceries, and sold sandwiches.

“In the South that’s how we always showed our love for each other,” Paula said. “You might not be able to afford the number-one toy, but you do have the ability to feed your family a delicious meal.”

Two and a half decades later, Deen oversaw an empire focused on Southern cooking and hospitality. And then, the unexpected happened. An employee (who happens to be Caucasian) added Paula to a lawsuit. Deen admitted she’d once used a racially charged ethnic term decades ago, though not to demean. The lawsuit was dismissed, but the damage was done. And Paula’s honesty cost her some opportunities.

But cookbook sales soared. Her furniture and pots and pans continued selling. Former President Carter vouched for the girl he knows. Four years later, it’s as if Paula never left the spotlight. She’s opened four new restaurants, launched two television shows, and her 18th book, At the Southern Table with Paula Deen, debuted in September.   

“Positively Paula was started to fulfill a need,” she said, describing her syndicated TV series. “I’ve got millions of people on Facebook saying, ‘Do a show, we miss you.’ What you see is actually in real time. It’s very simple. This is what I’ve cooked, here it is, and we’re eating it. People are enjoying it because they’re just getting me in the kitchen with them. You never know who you’re touching out there, how a simple smile or little joke can lift their spirits.”

No matter how fast-paced our lives have become, Paula remains a big advocate of family mealtime. “We’re all time deprived,” she pointed out. “But I’ve found you get your children in a relaxed situation, they have a tendency to talk to you.”

Shop-at-home network Evine carries Paula’s other show, Sweet Home Savannah, where Paula sells various product lines, including clothing, jewelry, and appliances. She especially loves her air fryer, which she demonstrates for me. “No oil whatsoever,” she said. “I’ve always been the kind that if I had something people would like, I want them to have it, too. It’s real important to me that I bring value to my audience. I can’t stand the idea of gouging somebody.”

Her shows are unscripted. But Paula’s more comfortable laughing and interacting with people in the moment. Besides she can’t remember lines. “I’ve always been one to laugh at myself,” she says.

To read more, subscribe now or pick up the October/November issue of South magazine.  

Edit ModuleShow Tags

South's Greatest Moms Contest 2019

We're looking for the greatest, most authentic and sincere, southern moms. Taking nominations through February 4th!

South's Greatest Dads 2019

Show your dad some love and enter him in the South's Greatest Dads contest and get him some votes!
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Events Calendar

  • "Keita Takahashi: Zooming Out" Exhibition at Telfair Musuems

    Jan 24, 2019
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Jepson Center

    Telfair Museums hosts the first museum survey of the work of visionary videogame designer Keita Takahashi (Japanese, b. 1975). Takahashi is noted...

  • "The Prints of Dame Laura Knight" Exhibition at Telfair Museums

    Jan 19, 2019
    10:00 AM - 5:00 PM @ Telfair Museums' Jepson Center

    Telfair Museums exhibits nine prints by Dame Laura Knight (British, 1877-1970), together for the first time since they were acquired by the museum...

  • SBF Children's Tent

    Feb 17, 2019
    1:00 PM - 4:00 PM @ Reynolds Square

    Join Live Oak Public Libraries and Savannah Book Festival for the SBF Children’s Tent on Sunday, February 17 from 1-4 PM in Reynolds Square....

  • Hospice Savannah Oyster Roast

    Feb 17, 2019
    2:00 PM - 6:00 PM @ Isle of Hope Marina

    Join us for our 2nd annual oyster roast in memory of Isle of Hope's beloved Sammy Moore. As many of you know, Sammy died under our care in...

  • Fundamentals of Salsa On2 (Mambo Style)

    Jan 16, 2019
    7:00 PM - 8:00 PM @ Fit912savannah

    Fundamentals of Salsa On2 (Mambo Style)    Fundamentals of Salsa On2 (Mambo style) is for beginners and advanced beginners  of this type of...

  • 23rd Annual Hilton Head Island Gullah Celebration

    Feb 01, 2019
    All Day @ Hilton Head Island

    The Hilton Head Island Gullah Celebration showcases the rich cultural heritage of theGullah people and their history on Hilton Head Island. Hilton...

  • Savannah Book Festival

    Feb 14, 2019
    All Day @ Downtown Savannah

    The 12th Annual Savannah Book Festival will continue to celebrate nationally-recognized and local authors through their contributions to literacy,...

  • License to Chill Snow Island

    Nov 16, 2018
    All Day @ Margaritaville at Lanier Islands

    Margaritaville at Lanier Islands is preparing for a winter wonderland makeover that will surprise and delight local residents and travelers...

  • Balletomane: Paintings by Spain’s Antonio Torres

    Feb 01, 2019
    All Day @ R. Alexander Fine Art

    The show will be on display at R. Alexander from February 1- March 2, 2019. In conjunction with Atlanta Ballet, a special opening reception will be...

  • Savannah Black Heritage Festival

    Feb 01, 2019
    All Day @ Savannah

    The Savannah Black Heritage Festival (SBHF) is a professionally produced, multi-disciplinary festival, and it is one of the many ethnic cultural...

  • 2019 American Traditions Vocal Competition

    Feb 18, 2019
    12:00 PM - 12:00 PM @ Skidaway Island UMC & The Trustees Theater

    The 2019 American Traditions Vocal Competition (ATC) will be held Feb. 18-22, 2019. For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit...

  • Fashion Show & Luncheon

    Feb 20, 2019
    11:00 AM - 2:00 PM @ The Plantation Club, The Landings

    Vendor Fair Fun Runway Fashion Show with local celebrities including former Mayor Edna Jackson, Tina Tyus-Shaw, Dawn Baker, Cynthia DeLoach,...

  • 2019 Groundhog Day 2.2 Mile Virtual Race

    Feb 20, 2019
    1:00 PM - 3:00 PM @ YOUR CHOICE

    February 20th is Love Your Pet Day! We want to celebrate all of the animals we love so much with a Love Your Pet Day 5K & 10K! We will be...

  • "A Star is Born"

    Feb 20, 2019
    7:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ Tybee Post Theater

    The last feature in our run up to the Academy Awards Feb. 24 is, of course, “A Star is Born!!”In this new take on the tragic love story,...

  • Fundamentals of Bachata

    Jan 16, 2019
    8:00 PM - 9:00 PM @ fit912savannah

    Fundamentals of Bachata    Come learn the sensual dance of Bachata with us. We're a small Savannah group and  would love to expand it with dance...

  • Opioid Alternatives & Resources Seminar

    Feb 21, 2019
    4:00 PM - 7:00 PM @ Richmond Hill City Center

    The Bryan County Opioid Prevention Project (BCOPP) is hosting an Opioid Alternatives & Resources Seminar for healthcare professionals Thursday,...

  • Brews for a Cause

    Feb 21, 2019
    5:30 PM - 7:00 PM @ Jazz'd Tapas Bar

    South Magazine and Southern Eagle presents BREWS FOR A CAUSE, Thursday February 21st, 2019.  Once a month, join a collection of like-minded...

  • Piano in the Arts-Music of the Americas

    Feb 21, 2019
    7:30 PM @ Armstrong Fine Arts Auditorium

  • World of Illusion at Savannah Theatre

    Feb 21, 2019
    8:00 PM - 10:00 PM @ Savannah Theatre

    The Savannah Theatre is presenting this incredible blend of comedy, close-up magic, and grand illusion featuring two dynamic, world-class acts for...

  • Cinema Circle: The Kid

    Feb 21, 2019
    8:00 PM - 10:00 PM @ Trustees Theater

    Journey through the era of silent film with "The Kid" (1921), Charlie Chaplin's first full-length feature masterpiece, where he served as director,...


Show More...

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Scenes of the South

Hearts for Healing Gala

The Faith Equestrian's Annual Hearts for Healing Gala at Tybee Wedding Chapel on Friday evening started out with a bang as the Free Spirit Orchestra' violin twins played their rendition of some of the greatest musical hits. The attendees were reminded what the event was all about as the founder Bonnie Rachael was recognized after story after story was shared to a room of teary eyed party-goers. Congrats to event director Bonnie Karr and her amazing team for a job well done!

The Cure Gala

Sisters on a journey sold out to a crowd of over 600 mainly female partygoers as they celebrated a night dedicated to finding a cure for childhood cancer.This special dinner featured unique, individually-themed table decorations, a silent auction, live auction, and a room full of big generous hearts. The event was held at the beautiful trustees garden, Charlie Morris's masterpiece of a venue.

Southern Coast Heart Ball

The American Heart Association's 22nd Annual Southern Heart Ball took place on February 2, 2019 and celebrated all the life-saving advances made so far while raising funds to continue to further AHA's mission. The black-tie gala brought together more than 400 guests to enjoy a night of dining, dancing, live entertainment and both live and silent auctions. Those in attendance got to hear the story of Lily Cochran, who was born with several congenital heart defects. Her father, a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, also had a heart disease and was honored at the event.

PUTTING Away Crime

On Saturday, January 12, 2019 Savannah helped McGruff the Crime Dog take a bite out of crime at the Crimestoppers Savannah's 3rd Annual Putt Putt Mini Golf Tournament held at Island Miniature Golf and Game on Wilmington Island. Proceeds went to helping fund rewards for the Crimestopper's anonymous crime tip line.

Dining in the Dark

On Saturday, January 12, 2019, the 3rd Annual Dining in the Dark event presented by The Charles C. Taylor and Samir Nikocevic Charitable Foundation benefitting the Savannah Center for Blind and Low Vision, was held at the Embassy Suites/Downtown Savannah.

Beaujolais Nouveau Day 2018

Savannah's 39 Rue De Jean celebrated Beaujolais Nouveau Day, the official end of this year’s growing season. Harvest is complete and vintners—especially in France—are ready to celebrate the completion of the harvest. Beaujolais Nouveau is a red wine that is annually released on the third Thursday in November. Nouveau wine undergoes a very short fermentation process, and yields an extremely fresh and fruity wine.

A Chefs Collaborative

This five course dinner held at Pacci Italian Kitchen and Bar allowed guests to taste exceptional flavors steeped in tradition. Included were the culinary skills of Chef Adam Barnett of The Katharine Brasserie & Bar, Winston-Salem, NC, Chef Robert Hoffman of Angeline’s Charlotte, NC, Chef Daniel Gorman of The Henley Nashville, TN, Chef Sebastien Rondier of Brabo, Alexandria, VA, and Chef Lauren Teague of PACCI Italian Kitchen + Bar.

East and West BBQ

A whole hog BBQ showcase, from two of the south’s most legendary Pitmasters, Pat Martin and Sam Jones. Hosted by Alida Hotel this event was a fabulous juxtaposition between Eastern North Carolina style BBQ and Western Tennessee style. Made possible by the Savannah Food and Wine Festival.

Savannah Food & Wine Fest

Hundreds came to experience Southern charm and hospitality, Savannah Style. The South's best culinary happenings - one exceptional week in Savannah. Iconic and historic coastal venues provided the perfect backdrop for gourmet and fun. South magazine captured the experience at the VIP tent.

Big Wig Boat Bash

Savannah's Riverboat, The Georgia Queen set sail to host the final fundraiser for the 2018 class of Big Wigs, together raising over $100,000 for the Susan G. Komen Coastal Georgia Foundation. This evening included heavy hors d’oeuvres, beverages, a silent auction, music and dancing and a contest to crown the Biggest BigWig! Contest categories included: The Biggest Wig, The Pink Ribbon Award and Best Pink Personality.