Author, Southern Cooking Bible (2011)
Author of 31 other cook books
Owner/Operator The Lady & Sons (Restaurant in Savannah, GA)
Host, Paula's Best Dishes (Food Network)
2 Emmys, Paula Deen's Home Cooking Show
Known as Queen of Southern Cooking
Paula Deen's Southern Cooking
The 700 Club
Appearance Date: October 11, 2010
THE DIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN CUISINE
Paula has faced criticism for the high amounts of fat, salt and sugar in her recipes. “People have a misconception of Southerners,” says Paula. “We eat more vegetables than any other region in the country. My grandmother cooked traditional Southern food up until she went into a nursing home. Most people’s (health) problems are genetic and they have to be responsible accordingly.”
Southern cuisine is diverse and highlights the deep cultural richness of the South. She points out that Southern food is regional. The gravy, barbecue sauce and corn bread change with the countryside and all of this good food comes out of a rich history. In Louisiana for example, exiled French refugees known as the Acadians arrived in South Louisiana from Nova Scotia, Canada in the mid 1700s. They were known for their use of wild game, seafood, wild vegetation and herbs. When those Acadians, later known as Cajuns, started mixing with the Native Americans, they learned techniques for using what was available from their surrounding area including swamps, bayous, woods, lakes and rivers.
Creole food is Louisiana-based but traces its roots from Spanish immigrants that later blended with Native American, French, Spanish, English, African, German and Italian cuisines Creole gave us favorites like jambalaya (which descended from a Spanish paella) and has a tendency to be closer to European cuisine than Cajun. “Good, down-home Southern cooking isn’t fancy,” says Paula. “But when y’all sit down to a simple plate of crisp fried chicken, a fluffy biscuit and plate of greens cooked with ham and a handsome banana cream pie topped with whipped cream, there is just nothing better.”
Paula will demo Fried Pork Chops with Tomato Gravy, page 142, Red Beans and Rice w/ Sausage, page 115, Cornbread, page 273, Southern Greens, page 240 and Pecan Spice Layer Cake with Caramel Frosting. Most of the recipes in her cookbook are new but every one of them is considered fundamental to Southern eating.
THE “QUEEN OF SOUTHERN COOKING”
Paula was born in Albany, Georgia and has been cooking and eating Southern food all of her life. Both of her parents died before she was 23 and after her first marriage ended in divorce, Paula suffered from agoraphobia. This anxiety disorder left Paula unable to leave the house. She relied on cooking to help deal with her condition. In 1986, she started working as a bank teller. Three years later, Paula moved to Savannah with her sons, Jamie and Bobby, and in 1989 divorced Jimmy Deen to whom she had been married since 1965. Soon she expanded her cooking experience to a catering service called The Bag Lady where she made sandwiches and other meals. Her sons made the deliveries. The business was successful and soon she outgrew her kitchen. In 1996, Paula opened her own restaurant, The Lady & Sons, in downtown Savannah. They were famous for their buffet which included sweet potatoes, macaroni and cheese, deep-fried Twinkies, fried chicken, cheesy meatloaf, greens, beans and creamed corn. Even today every meal comes with a garlic cheese biscuit and one of Paula’s famous Hoecakes. After a few years, they moved to a larger building in Savannah’s historic district. In 1999, USA Today named The Lady & Sons “International Meal of the Year.”
Paula’s relationship with the Food Network started in 1991. After executive producer Gordon Elliott took her through the city for a series of Doorknock Dinners episodes, she appeared in Ready, Set, Cook! Later Paula was invited to shoot a pilot called Afternoon Tea in 2001 which the network liked. Eventually they gave Paula her own show, Paula’s Home Cooking, which premiered in November 2002. Since then Paula has been given two more Food Network shows, Paula’s Party and Paula’s Best Dishes. In December 2007, Paula teamed with Cat Cora on Iron Chef America and won. In 2004, Paula remarried Michael Groover, a tugboat captain in Savannah. The wedding was documented by Food Network for a 2004 show.
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