Paula Deen

To say that Paula Deen has had a rough year understates the difficulties she has endured this spring and early summer. I’ve reported extensively on the controversy surrounding her. On May 17, the celebrity chef testified in a deposition for a lawsuit against her that she used the N-word some time in the past. As a result, Food Network refused to renew her contract, and sponsor after sponsor dropped her. Despite the hatred coming her way from many corners, her fans throughout the South rallied around her.

These days, it looks as though things are starting to turn around for her. A new publisher has picked up her upcoming cookbook, and she has begun to pop up here and there. Last month, she appeared on MasterChef (in an episode produced long before the deposition), judging the contestants in a Southern cooking challenge.

Last week, the Houston Chronicle reported on Deen’s appearance at the Metropolitan Cooking & Entertaining Show — her first public appearance since June.

Paula Deen fought back tears Saturday as she was greeted by cheers and a standing ovation from a crowd of about 1,500 during her appearance at the Metropolitan Cooking & Entertaining Show at Reliant Center.

It was Deen’s first public appearance since late June, when news broke that she had used a racial slur.

“These are tears of joy, y’all,” Deen told the audience. “I’ve said all along that the one place I’d want to make my first step back out is Texas. Y’all’s hearts are as big as your state.”

Deen presented two cooking demonstrations and appeared with her two son, who are cooking stars in their own right.