Paula Deen Makes Tearful First Public Appearance Since N-Word Scandal

Paula Deen Food Network Key Art - P 2013
Food Network

Paula Deen Food Network Key Art - P 2013

"These are tears of joy, y'all," the embattled celebrity chef told a crowd ahead of a cooking demonstration in Houston.

Paula Deen emerged from months of self-imposed exile Saturday, making her first public appearance since admitting to having used racial slurs in the past.

A Houston crowd of 1,500 gave the celebrity chef a standing ovation as she entered the Metropolitan Cooking & Entertaining Show at the city's Reliant Center. Deen fought back tears as she addressed the crowd, The Houston Chronicle reports.

PHOTOS:  Hollywood's Memorable Mea Culpas

"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."

She put on the first of two planned cooking demonstrations, and appeared with sons Bobby and Jamie Deen, who also are well-known chefs. On Sunday, Deen is slated to appear on Jamie Deen's Food Network show, Home for Dinner with Jamie Deen.

Deen lost her own Food Network show, as well as a book and endorsement deals worth millions after a May 17 deposition in which she admitted to having used the N-word was made public.

PHOTOS: 22 Celebrity-Owned Restaurants: The Hits and Misses

The deposition was part of a lawsuit brought by Lisa Jackson, a former employee at two of Deen's restaurants. Jackson sued Deen and her brother Bubba Hiers, claiming she faced racial discrimination and sexual harassment while working at Uncle Bubba's Seafood and Oyster House in Georgia.

A federal judge threw out the racial discrimination claims last month, and Deen and Jackson settled the suit Aug. 23 "without any award of costs or fees to any party."