The Power Behind Paula

paula deen and her team – photo: colin gray


The Power Behind Paula 

Fresh off of an Emmy win, Paula Deen was at the height of her powers when South featured her in, appropriately enough, the inaugural Power Issue. Paula, her family and her team spent an exhausting eight hours at Jarrel's gym to pull this cover story feature off. 

Featured in Faces of the South: The Trilogy Edition now on newsstands. Click here to order your copy of Faces today. 

Never turning down an opportunity, Paula Deen has faced her share of opposition, from the lessons learned in her Grandmother Paul's Kitchen, the death of her parents, and the opening of her famous "The Lady & Sons" restaurant.
If you live in Savannah and don't know who Paula Deen is , you either a) don't eat out, b) don't have cable, or c) have spent the last five years living under a rock with the rest of the crawdads. In addition to owning the restaurant that brings in over 1,600 people a day, Paula also has her own show on the Food Network, several successful cookbooks and her own magazine, currently with a circulation of over 1.2 million. She is everywhere, and yet her legions of fans can't get enough of her. While this may leave some locals scratching their heads, it's really not too difficult to decipher. Simply ask one of the many patrons who line up outside the restaurant first thing in the morning, not in anticipation of breakfast, but of lunch.
This celebrity chef's history is riddled with the kind of emotional and financial challenges that would make privileged princess (and ex-con) Martha Stewart shudder. But without those hard years, the family business might not have become the unstoppable battalion that it is today. To discover the power behind Paula, we must go back to the days when she was powerless.
By 23 years old, Paula had lost both of her parents and started to see her marriage unravel.
Paula also suffered from agoraphobia for many years, which developed after her father passed. The phobia showed no sign of alleviating when Paula's first husband decided to take the family out of their hometown of Albany for a job in Savannah. But seemingly out of nowhere, Paula woke up on day and found that her heart had woken up too. "Life is just going by," she remembers telling her self. "And you're not using the gift of life." The serenity prayer came into her head and she listened as if hearing it for the first time.
Two years after her epiphany of accepting the things she cannot change, Paula decided to use the education that her grandmother had given her for years (no textbooks needed) to start her own business. The art of Southern cooking would now deliver her emancipation.


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