Deen, Paula 1947- (Paula Ann Hiers Deen, Paula H. Deen)

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Deen, Paula 1947- (Paula Ann Hiers Deen, Paula H. Deen)


Born January 19, 1947, in Albany, GA; married Jimmy Deen (a car dealer), 1965 (divorced, 1989); married Michael Anthony Groover, March, 2004; children: Bobby, Jamie, two stepchildren.


Office—The Lady and Sons, 102 W. Congress St., Savannah, GA 31401; Uncle Bubba's Oyster House, 104 Bryan Woods Rd., Savannah, GA 31410.


Worked as a bank teller, c. 1986; The Bag Lady (catering business), Savannah, GA, owner, 1989-91; The Lady (restaurant), owner, c. 1991-95; Lady and Sons (restaurant), Savannah, owner and chef, 1996—; Paula's Home Cooking (television series), Food Network, host, 2002—; also host of Paula's Party, Food Network; Uncle Bubba's Oyster House, Savannah, co-owner, c. 2003—; president of Lady Enterprises, Inc.; publisher, with Hoffman Media, LLC, of magazine Cooking with Paula Deen; also owner of a gift shop in Savannah; celebrity promoter for Smithfield Foods, Inc. Appeared in film Elizabethtown, 2005.


Most Memorable Meal of the Year, USA Today, 1999, for food prepared at Lady and Sons restaurant; Small Business Person of the Year, U.S. Small Business Administration, 2003; Georgia Women Entrepreneurs award, Georgia Small Business Development Center, 2003.


The Lady & Sons Just Desserts: More Than 120 Sweet Temptations from Savannah's Favorite Restaurant, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2002.

Paula Deen & Friends: Living It Up, Southern Style, photographs by Alan Richardson, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2005.

(With Martha Nesbit) Paula Deen Celebrates! Best Dishes and Best Wishes for the Best Times of Your Life, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2006.

(With Sherry Suib Cohen) Paula Deen: It Ain't All about the Cookin' (autobiography), Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2007.


The Lady & Sons Savannah Country Cookbook, introduction by John Berendt, Random House (New York, NY), 1998.

The Lady & Sons, Too! A Whole New Batch of Recipes from Savannah, Random House (New York, NY), 2000.

Paula Deen's Kitchen Classics: The Lady & Sons Savannah Country Cookbook and the Lady & Sons, Too!, introduction by John Berendt, Random House (New York, NY), 2005.

Paula Deen's 2008 Calendar, Random House Trade Paperbacks (New York, NY), 2007.


The host of two popular cable cooking shows, author of books, and owner of two restaurants, Paula Deen is a celebrity chef who promotes down-home Southern cooking. How she achieved this success is a long story, however. Her life began conventionally enough: she married her high school sweetheart when she was still a teenager and soon gave birth to two sons. Her life took a turn for the worse, however, when her father died a year after her marriage. A few years later, her mother died as well, and Deen had to assume the responsibility of raising her younger brother. These pressures took their toll, and the young mother began to experience the symptoms of agoraphobia, the fear of venturing outside one's home. Struggling against the disease, she began to feel more like herself by the mid 1980s and decided to take a job as a bank teller. When she was robbed at gunpoint while at her bank, the symptoms of agoraphobia returned with a vengeance. The problem caused such a strain on her marriage that she and her husband divorced in 1989. Suddenly finding herself in need of an income, Deen gathered up her courage and opened a catering business, The Bag Lady. She did the cooking while her two boys made deliveries. Within a couple of years, the business became a full-fledged restaurant she opened at a Best Western hotel. In 1995 she expanded it as Lady and Sons restaurant. Deen's big break came when her business was featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show, and this was followed by an award for best meal from USA Today.

Deen also began writing cookbooks. Her first work was published by Random House in 1998 as The Lady & Sons Savannah Country Cookbook. Some cooking purists decried Deen's frequent use of boxed and canned ingredients in her recipes, while others appreciated the convenience and tasty results. "Home cooks will find the recipes easy to follow, and most dishes translate to other regions," remarked Booklist critic Mark Knoblauch. A Publishers Weekly writer considered the cookbook appropriate for "those looking for some distinctively American comfort food—and in a mood for some decidedly anti-nouvelle regression."

In 2002, Deen began hosting her first cooking show, Paula's Home Cooking, later adding another series, Paula's Party. Gradually, she has turned her restaurant endeavor into a food, broadcasting, and publishing empire now known as Lady Enterprises, Inc. It includes a magazine, Cooking with Paula Deen, and merchandise sold in a gift shop she opened next to her restaurant. Deen also helped her brother open another restaurant, Uncle Bubba's Oyster House, and has even experimented with acting, appearing in the 2005 movie Elizabethtown as the distinctly Southern Aunt Dora. She writes frankly about her colorful life story in her memoir, Paula Deen: It Ain't All about the Cookin', which Library Journal reviewer John Charles described as a "richly emotional culinary memoir" that is "warm, comfortable, and occasionally salty."



Deen, Paula, and Sherry Suib Cohen, Paula Deen: It Ain't All about the Cookin', Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2007.


Booklist, May 15, 1998, Mark Knoblauch, review of The Lady & Sons Savannah Country Cookbook, p. 1580.

Business Wire, November 8, 2005, "Paula Deen Magazine Launches"; December 5, 2005, "Paula Deen Magazine Sells Out"; September 12, 2006, "Back to Basics Signs Exclusive Endorsement Agreement with Food Network Celebrity Paula Deen."

Daily Press (Newport News, VA), October 21, 2006, "Queen of Cuisine Brings Home the Bacon: The Food Network's Belle of Southern Cooking Will Be the Face of Smithfield Foods"; December 20, 2006, "Down-Home Diva"; January 23, 2007, "Smithfield Partnering with Paula Deen to Sell Non-meat Products"; February 19, 2007, "Paula Deen Raises $200,000 for Local Cause"; February 20, 2007, "Paula Deen Helps Foodbank of Va. Peninsula Raise Dough: The Celebrity Cook Helped the Group Raise More Than $200,000 When She Appeared at a Feb. 10 Fundraiser."

Good Housekeeping, October 1, 2005, Joanne Kaufman, "Southern-Fried Charm: Paula Deen Has a Hit Cooking Show, and Now She's in a Movie. But, Says This Down-Home Chef, Her Life Hasn't Always Been Such a Slice of Sweet Potato Pie," p. 163.

Gourmet Retailer, September 1, 2006, Michelle Moran, "What's Hot This Quarter?," p. 109; November 1, 2006, "Back to Basics Signs Endorsement with Food Network's Paula Deen," p. 14.

Hollywood Reporter, April 4, 2006, Kimberly Nordyke, "Food Net Cooks New Series," p. 57.

Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 2006, "Cooking in Front of the Camera: Best of the Culinary Stars," p. 9.

Library Journal, April 15, 1998, Judith C. Sutton, review of The Lady & Sons Savannah Country Cookbook, p. 109; May 15, 2002, Judith Sutton, review of The Lady & Sons Just Desserts: More Than 120 Sweet Temptations from Savannah's Favorite Restaurant, p. 122; September 15, 2006, Judith Sutton, review of Paula Deen Celebrates! Best Dishes and Best Wishes for the Best Times of Your Life, p. 82; March 15, 2007, John Charles, review of Paula Deen: It Ain't All about the Cookin', p. 88.

Miami Herald, February 25, 2007, Lydia Martin, "Culinary Personalities Charm, Dish at Food Festival."

Mississippi Magazine, July 1, 2006, Kyle Brantley, "Dishing with Deen," p. 13.

National Provisioner's Meat & Deli Retailer, September 1, 2006, Richard Mitchell, "Partnering for Pork: Smithfield Foods Inc. Is Teaming with Television Personality Paula Deen to Strengthen Its Brand and Promote Family Dining," p. 44.

Newsweek, April 6, 2007, Jac Chebatoris, "20-Year Bout with Agoraphobia."

New York Times, October 6, 2006, Susan Stewart, "Another Helping of Paula Deen, Cooking and Flirting," p. 25.

Omaha World-Herald, January 17, 2007, "Bluffs' Pancake Man Flips for Paula Deen."

Orlando Sentinel, November 5, 2006, "At the Midnight Hour: Paula Deen and Rachael Ray Offer Their Ideas for a Homey New Year Celebration."

PR Newswire, July 7, 2006, "Flagstaff House Restaurant Featured on New Food Network Show Hosted by Paula Deen's Sons, Jamie and Bobby Deen"; September 19, 2006, "Smithfield Foods, Paula Deen Join Forces to Encourage Families to Eat Meals Together"; September 21, 2006, "Paula Deen Promotes Family Meals at Home as Part of National Eat Dinner Together Week"; October 27, 2006, "Private Cooking Lesson with Celebrity Cook Paula Deen Is Auctioned for Record $210,000"; January 21, 2007, "Smithfield Specialty Foods Group to Offer New Paula Deen Products through Peanut Shop of Williamsburg"; February 2, 2007, "First-Ever ‘Food Network Awards,’ February 23rd"; March 15, 2007, "The Deen Family Business Expands in Savannah."

People, August 22, 2005, Mike Lipton, "Recipe for Living: Suffering from Acute Agoraphobia, TV Chef Paula Deen Cooked Up Her Own Cure," p. 113.

Publishers Weekly, April 6, 1998, review of The Lady & Sons Savannah Country Cookbook, p. 73; February 28, 2005, review of Paula Deen & Friends: Living It Up, Southern Style, p. 58.

Savannah Morning News, September 8, 2006, "Paula Deen to Open Gift Shop in Space Now Occupied by Finnegan's Wake."

Supermarket News, October 23, 2006, Lynne Miller, "Smithfield Teams Up with Paula Deen," p. 50.

TelevisionWeek, February 7, 2005, Daisy Whitney, "Food Network Is Serving Up Chefs; Series, Specials Will Spotlight Signature Personalities," p. 3.


Food Network Web site, (May 18, 2007), brief biography of Paula Deen.

Lady & Sons Web site, (May 18, 2007).

Paula Deen Home Page, (May 18, 2007).

Paula Deen Magazine Web site, (May 18, 2007).

USA Today Pop Candy, (December 1, 2005), "A Q&A with … Paula Deen."