Born In: Albany, Georgia, United States
Paula Deen is an American TV personality, cooking show host, author of numerous cookbooks and owner of various restaurants. She began her cooking career pretty late in her life with a catering service, but soon became popular with her southern cooking. Restaurants, cookbooks and cookery shows with Food Network followed. One of her shows Paula's Home Cooking also bagged her a Daytime Emmy Award. Her career soared as she opened new restaurants, launched her own magazine as well as kitchenware and food products. However, accused of racism in 2013, her career took a downward path. Her contract with Food Network was not renewed and numerous companies severed their ties with her. Following this, she started her own firm, launched her own digital network, released more cookbooks, started her new show Positively Paula, introduced her clothing line and opened more new restaurants. Earlier, before she began her career, Paula Deen battled with panic attacks and agoraphobia.
Also Known As: Paula Ann Hiers Deen
Spouse/Ex-: Michael Groover (m. 2004), Jimmy Deen (m. 1965–1989)
father: Earl Wayne Hiers, Sr.
mother: Corrie A. Hiers (née Paul)
siblings: Earl Hiers
children: Bobby Deen, Jamie Deen
Born Country: United States
U.S. State: Georgia
Paula Deen was born as Paula Ann Hiers on 19 January 1947 in Albany, Georgia, U.S., to Corrie A. Hiers and Earl Wayne Hiers, Sr.
She initially grew up in her maternal grandparents’ resort, but then moved to Albany with her parents when she was six. Nonetheless, her closeness with her grandparents continued and later it was her grandmother, Irene Paul, who taught her the art of Southern cooking.
In 1965, she graduated from Albany High School and also got married. The following year, she lost her father and four years later, her mother passed away.
Post her parents’ death, she was already facing difficult times when she was robbed at gun point while working as a bank teller. The situation grew harder for her to handle and she suffered from panic attacks and agoraphobia. During her time at home, though, she cooked a lot.
In 1987, Paula Deen moved to Savannah, Georgia together with her sons and took up a hospital job. Two years later she had only $200 and two teenage sons – Jamie and Bobby – as well as a younger brother, Earl to look after.
In June 1989, she launched her home-based catering company – The Bag Lady – doing what she excelled in – Southern cooking. She cooked while her sons delivered lunch and love in a bag for her hospital colleagues. This was the beginning of her professional cooking career.
The Bag Lady became popular and Paula Deen moved to a small restaurant – at a Best Western motel in Savannah in 1991.
Five years later, in 1996, along with her sons, she opened her first restaurant ‘The Lady & Sons’ in downtown Savannah, on West Congress Street. The restaurant yet again became extremely popular and won the title of International Meal of the Year by USA Today in 1999.
A year prior to the win, Paula Deen published her first cookbook The Lady & Sons Savannah Country Cookbook(1998) wherein she shared her recipes with readers. The book further elevated her status as a chef.
The success of her cookbook led to her first ever television appearance on QVC shopping channel and later her own cable-television show on the Food Network Paula’s Home Cooking (November 2002- 2008).
In 2005, she launched a lifestyle magazine Cooking with Paula Deen and the following year published her third cookbook, Paula Deen Celebrates!. Still a year later, her memoir Paula Deen: It Ain’t All About the Cookin was released and became a Ney York Times bestseller.
In 2005, she made her acting debut in the romantic tragicomedy movie Elizabethtown wherein she played Aunt Dora. Together with the film, a Food Network special Paula Goes Hollywood was also released the same year.
Following the success of the earlier food show, Paula Deen went on to host two more Food Network shows,�Paula's Party(2006-2008) and Paula's Best Dishes (2008-2013).
By 2012, Paula Deen had published around 11 cookbooks including The Deen Family Cookbook�(2009) andPaula Deen's Southern Cooking Bible�(2011).
She also opened numerous restaurants at casinos around the country and launched kitchenware and food products based on her traditional recipes.
She has been criticised for recipes that have huge amount of fat and sugar in it. In 2012, she publicly acknowledged that she has Type 2 diabetes for three years. This attracted criticism since she revealed her diabetes only after she signed a big endorsement deal with Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk.
In 2013, The Food Network did not renew her contract following her confession in a lawsuit regarding racial slurs. Companies like Walmart and Target withdrew from selling Paula Deen-branded merchandise in their stores. Other companies like Caesars Entertainment and Novo Nordisk also severed their ties with her.
Additionally, Random House publisher cancelled a five-book deal with her. The lawsuit was eventually dismissed.
In 2014, in an attempt to regain her status, she launched her nationwide live tour, Paula Deen Live!,which comprised shows wherein she made seasonal dishes, played interactive games and shared stories.
The same year, she started her firm Paula Deen Ventures and launched The Paula Deen Network, a subscriber-based digital network which featured exclusive videos of her and her guests cooking in front of an audience. She acquired rights to her Food Network show which is available on her network.
In 2015, she launched her free mobile game – Paula Deen’s Recipe Quest - and released another cookbook – Paula Deen Cuts The Fat: 250 Favorite Recipes All Lightened Up. Her cookbook entered the New York Times best seller list. She also began her podcast - What’s Cooking with Paula Deen – and radio show – Get Cooking with Paula Deen.
In 2015, she also participated in Dancing with the Stars along with professional dancer Louis van Amstel and lasted six weeks in the show.
The year 2016 saw her launching two new television shows. The first Positively Paula�presented cooking and interviews and aired on various cable channels while in the second show Sweet Home Savannah, she sells a variety of kitchen and food products as well as fashion and home textiles. The show aired on the home shopping network Evine. The year also saw her launching her own clothing line.
Paula Deen went on open new restaurants including Paula Deen's Family Kitchen in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and Myrtle Beach as well as Paula Deen's Creek House in Savannah, Georgia and Paula Deen’s The Bag Lady in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
She released more cookbooks including Paula Deen’s Air Fryer Cookbook (2016), At the Southern Table with Paula Deen (2017), Favorite Recipes of Her Lady and Her Friends (2017) and Paula Deen’s Southern Baking (2017).
In 2019, she hosted a television series Paula Deen Jewelry and in 2020, began her web series Quarantine Cooking with Paula Deen.
In 2007 Daytime Emmy Award, she bagged the Outstanding Lifestyle Host award for her show Paula's Home Cooking.
In 2008, the same show got her the Gracie Allen Award for Outstanding Host - Information or Entertainment.
Paula Deen married her high-school sweetheart, Jimmy Deen in 1965 and had two sons from the marriage – Jamie and Bobby. The couple divorced in 1989.
Since 2004, she has been wedded to Michael Groover, a tugboat captain in the Port of Savannah, Georgia.
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