Paula Deen Bakes Up Some Pie

Hey, y'all: Paula Deen jumps back into spotlight at MetroCooking Dallas

Paula Deen jumps back into spotlight at MetroCooking Dallas

Paula Deen
Paula Deen appeared at MetroCooking stop in Dallas. Photo by Marc Lee
Paula Deen
Paula Deen appeared at MetroCooking event in Dallas. Photo by Marc Lee
Paula Deen
Paula Deen signed books after cooking demo. Photo by Marc Lee
Paula Deen
Paula Deen is surrounded by fans. Photo by Marc Lee
Paula Deen
Audience at Paula Deen before show begins. Photo by Marc Lee
Paula Deen
Photographers kept at more than an arm's length distance. Photo by Marc Lee
Paula Deen
Paula Deen
Paula Deen
Paula Deen
Paula Deen
Paula Deen

Taking a baby step back into the public eye, unemployed TV food personality Paula Deen came to Dallas for an appearance on Saturday at MetroCooking Dallas, a two-day food exhibit at the Dallas Convention Center.

Officially, Deen's appearance consisted of a one-hour cooking demonstration in which she prepared chicken pot pie and peanut-butter pie. But it functioned more as an unspoken plea for forgiveness and acceptance – which the crowd granted unequivocally, greeting her with cheers and "Paula" chants.

"Y'all are so good and so kind. I miss y'all too," Deen said. "I really hated being separated from y'all. It's good to be back."

 "Y'all are so good and so kind. I miss y'all too," Deen said. "I really hated being separated from y'all. It's good to be back." 

This was only her second appearance in public — following a stop in Houston on September 14 — since her fall from grace in June. That's when she admitted to using a racial epithet more than 20 years ago, resulting in the cancellation of her TV show as well as a number of contracts with food companies.

Three months doesn't seem like all that long to have been gone in the first place, but recovery time from scandal seems to shrink ever smaller these days.

MetroCooking, an annual food trade show with which Deen has been affiliated for eight years, stuck by her, and it was a canny move. The Saturday show sold out, with an audience that exceeded the 1,500 maximum, some paying up to $400 for a ticket. "We had to bring in a few extra chairs," said a spokeswoman for the show.

Deen was joined onstage by family members including her husband, Michael Groover, and son Bobby Deen. The first segment of her appearance saw them good-naturedly sparring, with extra attention paid to her new daughter-in-law, Claudia.

"Look at her leggings," Deen exclaimed, lifting Claudia's shirt to examine her backside before bending over to grope her legs. "I think she'll give me pretty babies, don't y'all?"

Her presentation seemed fractured and vulnerable. She told a silly joke about the two potatoes that got married, then asked if anyone remembered her dog Lulu from last year. She wanted to show how humorously ugly the dog had become but couldn't find a photo.

Then she shared a poignant story about a necklace she was wearing, that had just been given to her by someone at a pre-performance lunch. "Is she here?" she kept asking, patting the large necklace with her hand. No one came forward.

She became more assured once she launched into the recipes, with son Bobby by her side. The demo went by quickly. After it was over, she came out from behind a black curtain, flanked by handlers, to a booth to sign books and even magazines. A throng pressed in anxiously, mostly women like her, none willing to go on the record as being a fan.

The show continues Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm. Deen makes an encore appearance at 1 pm.