Embattled TV chef Paula Deen is finding plenty of support in her native Georgia and online after being dropped by Food Network.
Fans packed her popular Savannah restaurant Saturday, The New York Times reports. Outside of The Lady and Sons, people talked of boycotting Food Network, which Friday said it would not renew Deen’s contract after she admitted to having used “the n-word” and other racial slurs in the past.
Deen supporters also organized online, flooding the Food Network’s Facebook page with pro-Deen messages. A fan-made “We Support Paula Deen” Facebook page has received more than 160,000 likes since being created Friday.
“You just lost a devoted fan of Food Network,” wrote one woman on Food Network’s page. “We love Paula Dean — use your head — she messed up in the ’80s — give me a break!”
Added another supporter: “She apologized and can do nothing further. If and when you all can go back in time and make your lives perfect, you may be at a point where you can judge others.”
In Savannah, fans at Deen’s restaurant also defended the chef.
“I get it, believe me,” Nicole T. Green, a 36-year-old African-American woman, told The Times. “But what’s hard for people to understand is that she didn’t mean it as racist. It sounds bad, but that’s not what’s in her heart. She’s just from another time.”
After being dropped by Food Network, other pieces of Deen’s media empire remain in question. Forbes estimates her net worth at $17 million, which includes a large presence in the publishing world. Hoffman Media, which publishes the bimonthly Cooking With Paula Deen, said Saturday it was “not in a position to discuss her magazine and contract right now.”
Deen also is set to publish a new recipe book, Paula Deen’s New Testament: 250 Favorite Recipes, All Lightened Up, in mid-October. Random House is “closely monitoring the situation” surrounding Deen, a company spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal.
The Deen controversy began Wednesday when a transcript of a videotaped court deposition was unearthed. In the deposition, Dean admitted to using racial slurs in the past. She and her brother Bubba Hiers are being sued by the former manager of their Savannah restaurants, Lady and Sons and Bubba’s Seafood and Oyster House. The suit claims Deen and her brother committed multiple acts of violence, discrimination and racism.
On Friday, Deen canceled an appearance on the Today show and issued a series of video apologies for her behavior.