What Paula Deen Is Really Like (My day with her)

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A few months back I drove down to Savannah, Georgia to spend the day filming with Paula Deen. We had a wonderful time and I found her kitchen to be one of the most comfortable rooms I’ve ever been in. The Episode we filmed airs this Saturday on the Food Network (click here to read times and please RSVP if you plan on watching).

What is Paula Deen like? Well she’s just like you’d think she is. She is gracious, kind, and absolutely beautiful inside and out. This is a warm hearted Southern Mama and Grandmama to the core. She is a generous person, heaping praise and thanks on all of those around her. She made me feel so welcome and we chatted about our grandmothers, life in the old days, and the joys of getting to be a Mama.

Blurry photo of us being silly

Now I want to tell you about her boys. They were both there, they were both as friendly as could be, and they were both so well mannered. I cooked with Bobby on the show and we had a great time. That boy could make a tree stump laugh! But the main thing that impressed me with her boys was that when each of them left, they went around to more than twenty members of the production crew and thanked each one of them by name and gave them each a hug. That speaks volumes to the kind of people they are and how they were raised. I always feel that my behavior is a reflection on my mother and so I do my best each day to be a credit to her. Bobby and Jamie definitely are.

I took my heirloom rolling pin to use in the recipe we prepared of my Mama Reed’s Nilla Wafer Cake and I also brought along some green stamps, tea glasses that used to be peanut butter jars (like my Mama Reed used) and an ad for the peanut butter that had come in them. We enjoyed chatting about them while we were filming.

The funny thing is, you know how Southerners really don’t hear our own accents? Paula said my Alabama accent made her sound like a yankee! ~giggles~ We all know that isn’t true but it was still funny to hear.

So yesterday on my Facebook page I asked if anyone had any specific questions about my filming with Paula and y’all came up with some good ones! Some are a bit more intense and some lighthearted. I’ll do my best to answer them below. I didn’t answer the ones that wanted me to ask Paula a question because I’m afraid I won’t be speaking with her before the show, and I left off some that ended up being duplicates (A lot of us want to know the same thing – but isn’t that always the way with family?).

April – How many sticks of Butter did ya’ll use during the show?

I think three but possibly four. As for my part in it, one.

Charles- Carol and I will be eating at her place in Tunica next week. Any free meals?

~Giggles~ It costs a great deal of money just to be Paula Deen – I can promise you that without a bit of reservation. I ate at her restaurant in Savannah and while I did ask her producer to get me a table there, I happily paid full price for my meal and would have never dreamed of letting her cover it.

Glenda – Will you be on her cooking show?

Yes. This Saturday. Here is the link on Food Network’s site.

I won’t be watching it when it airs though, I have an event at my kid’s school so I’ll let y’all see it first.

Ally- How did she get her courage to overcome Agoraphobia? Was it a strictly “mind over matter” thing? 

We actually talked about that during filming. I’m not sure if it will make it into the show. I haven’t seen the episode and really have no idea what it includes.

Her overcoming that is especially impressive knowing what all she has to go through in public nowadays. I think I’d be hiding in a hole…

Donna– How did it feel to be in the company of someone that has gone through what you are now going through? Did you say “I wanna be just like her?” Is she as wholesome as she seems on tv?

Donna, you hit the nail on the head. I felt like I was with someone who understands so much of what my life is like now, things that I can never speak about because folks wouldn’t understand. The funny thing is that once I was finally with someone who understood it, I didn’t even need to talk about all of the things I’ve encountered on my journey. It was just nice being with someone who has traveled the road.

As far as me wanting to be like her, I have nothing but respect and admiration for Paula, both for the road she’s traveled and for the character and grace she’s maintained through it all. But I’ve never aspired to be like any earthly person other than my mother. As far as being more like my Mama, I’ve still got a long way to go :).

Paula Deen doesn’t put on any airs. She is exactly who she presents herself to be.

William – How was your cholesterol – before and after?!

I can’t speak to cholesterol but my heart was definitely in better shape afterwards.

Donna – I saw her on Dr. Oz and was so touched by her desire to quit smoking. I hope her journey is successful. Does she cook anything without butter? Hehe

She cooks a great deal without butter but the moment she stops using it on air there will be moment people shout with outrage that she’s a sell out.

You don’t get to a certain place in public life without learning that you can’t please them all and it’s best to just be true to who you are 🙂

Jim – Butter or margarine?

Paula is decidedly and determinedly butter only. She faces as much criticism for that as I do for my butter/margarine shifting. In the end I feel this should be to each their own. Your kitchen – your rules. I wasn’t assigned to judge 🙂

Debbie – Has Paula stopped smoking. I also saw her on Dr. Oz and saw the very vunerable side of her that you don’t often see of famous people on tv. I could see her hiding her fear (searching for the right word) with comedy. She had me laughing and then crying for her and her struggle. I can relate as I struggle with food but it just all taste so good! 😉 Tell her how much we all love her next time you see her. We love you too!

Debbie, thank you!! I love you right back, I truly do.

I can’t speak to whether or not Paula smokes. I can’t imagine she is able to be who she is, with the great demands placed on her time and having to live under a microscope, without having something she does just for herself though – no matter what that is. If I were ever in her shoes, I’d need a truck delivery of diet dr pepper each day just to get out of bed 🙂

Willie – Just tell her that we all love you AND her.

I will do that Willie – and Thank you!!!

Janet -Did you get to meet her sons and husband?

Yes Ma’am! I met both of her sons, cooked with Bobby and spent a good bit of time talking to him, but didn’t get to meet her sweet husband.

Amanda – She seems so nice on tv, I bet she is even nicer in person? my daughter always says look mom our friend is on tv!

She really is a sweet and dear woman.

John- I would love to know what color she uses on her hair…..Beautiful silver……...

Oh isn’t it? I wish I could tell you! I complimented her hair as well. She said “Well honey, I wish I could give it to you but you can only get this color by an ex husband and two grown kids.”

Latosha – Many years ago (1994 or 95) I worked at a place and Paula Deen was a client. We supplied to her. I was her customer service rep.. We had many conversations and she even offered me a job over the phone. I had no desire to move from South GA and didn’t know her. BOY!!! I should have took up the offer! We got along FABULOUS!

She’s such a sweetheart, isn’t she?

Lydia – Ask her to come to Huntsville and have a great big Paula/Christy cookoff and fun-filled day of fans just hanging out…..

I’ll do that! We’d have to cook together though, I don’t do “cookoffs” as I have a strict policy of never competing with my recipes. Competing is saying that you think your recipe or cooking is better than others and I’ve never felt that way. You’re every bit as good a cook as I am, if not better!

Angie – how long before you started breathing normally when you were taping? I would have been hyperventilating from sheer joy!

I was never the least bit nervous. I was nervous the first time I did tv at a little local station in Huntsville a few years back. Once I got that behind me people have just been people ever since and I always feel blessed whenever I get to spend time with folks on both sides of the camera.

Michelle – Are her boys as cute in person as they are on tv? 😉

Nope. They’re cuter.

Malinda – is she as sweet as she seems and funny in person?

She is a gracious and kind person, with generous heart. As for being funny – She’s a HOOT!

Jean – What was one thing you learned from her and what was your favorite part of this whole experience?

I had one question I wanted to ask her. One thing that I felt only she could understand.

All of my life I’ve felt like I was the last puppy in the box. The one nobody picked. Folks just walked by and didn’t notice once the shiny, cuter puppies were gone. That has made the success of my website and book and, well, I guess me, hard to digest and wrap my head around at times.

I wanted to ask Paula “How do you handle being the last puppy in the box all of your life and then all of a sudden being chosen first?”

I didn’t ask her though. Once I was around her I understood. I think we’re both still the last puppy in our minds, and that is what makes us who we are. It was comforting seeing that.

Gwen – Do you think she will ever have a cooking show, “Healthy Cooking with Paula Deen”?

That’s an excellent question and one only Paula could answer, of course. Personally, I kinda feel like I know where it would go. Paula never asked to be the Paula Deen brand that she is today. The public put here there. They took a shining to who she was and what she represented, the fact that she cooked like so many of our grandmothers and then had the nerve to be proud of her cooking heritage to boot, and they put her where she is. Some people in that same public will happily crucify her for being the person they lifted her up for being. If she were to change now, they’d call her a sell out. But the great thing is Paula Deen has the rare character trait of being able to remain true to herself though it all.

Candace-  I have to wonder is she genuinely nice and sweet or put on? I do love Paula (not NEARLY as much as you, Christy..you’re the real thing…a Mama with young’uns and so forth) and have seen her somewhat get the “big head” over the years compared to what she used to be.

Candace you are so sweet. Thank you for such a wonderful compliment 🙂 My younguns keep me hopping, that’s for sure!  This is a great question and I’m going to expand on it a little bit, beyond what you asked, to address other areas in which some folks might think she has an ego issue.

I didn’t find her to have a big head or ego at all. She’s just a plain old thing in person and doesn’t act as if she thinks she’s any more special than anyone else. She works harder than anyone I’ve ever seen.

As you get bigger, you have to form a natural insulation around yourself for the sake of your family and personal life and I can only imagine she has to have several layers. Sometimes you hear of folks running into her and saying “She didn’t even smile at me!” or the like, and it bothers me because I know on the other side of things, she may have been up half the night flying in, done tv, and radio that day, and then had a book signing where she was smiling and bright for three or four hours with hundreds of people in attendance.  Sometimes, not smiling isn’t the equivalent of a frown. It just means your face would like to take a breath.

Ann  – I’ve been meaning to ask but what were the cookies called that you took to the set then gave me the leftovers at the front desk of the Westin. They were absolutely fabulous.

I took two different kinds of cookies, Ann, and Paula and her boys tried them and liked them both! Dishpan Cookies and M&M Bar Cookies. I’m so glad you liked them and it was great getting to meet you!!!


So there you have it folks, the truth about Paula Deen. She is a hardworking, good hearted person who is also a devoted mother and doting grandmother…But I’m pretty sure that isn’t a startling revelation 🙂 

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  1. After getting to know you through your web site I would much rather meet and eat with you than Paula Deen! She’s good but you are fabulous! Love and best wishes to you and your family this Thanksgiving season. I am thankful for you and your web site!

  2. Gotta say Im a bit jealous.I think paula is a long lost relative of mine.You wouldnt believe it but my family has their initials on a wall next to a picture of her with the Neelys in a men’s room in a Neelys bbq in Tennessee!My wife says I have a crush on her,I say I love good food.Have you ever done anything with the Neelys?
    My wife and I moved to NC from Ca in a Caravan of 2 vehicles…after 3 u-turns in my big truck and her not tellin me on the c.b radio in her car she thought i was gonna loose it.Until…I saw the Neelys bbq sign.That woman knows my heart.

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