Paula Deen Returns To a Standing Ovation In Texas After Her, Ahem, ‘Rough Patch’

"Y'all's hearts are as big as your state."

Has it really been three months since Paula Deen wept her way through a Today show apology? On Saturday, she was shedding tears of joy during her first public appearance at the Metropolitan Cooking & Entertaining Show in Houston. All while she received a standing ovation.

“Y’all’s hearts are as big as your state,” she told the crowd.

Calling her carnival of disaster a “rough patch,” the disgraced celebrity chef was in town to host a couple of cooking demonstrations. Some tickets to the event ran up to $400 a pop. There were about 1,400 people in the audience during the warm welcome.

Scandal inspiration Judy Smith orchestrated Deen’s rescheduled Today show appearance back in June, and likely advised Deen to keep quiet for a while so the furor over her use of a racial slur could die down. During her time out of the spotlight, a federal judge tossed the racial discrimination case against Deen and she settled the remaining litigation with Lisa Jackson. So the comeback has begun.

Besides the appearance, Deen also tweeted that she would be on her son’s show Home for Dinner with Jamie Deen today. (Did anyone watch?) She also used Twitter to ask people to sign up for her newsletter.

At the event, fans came armed with signs and sashes to show their support. “We wanted to step it up because she’s had a rough year. We want her back on TV, and we love her,” Stephanie Young, who showed up with three friends, told The Houston Chronicle. The paper also interviewed one of the few African Americans who went to the event. She attended with her two daughters.

So there still is a fan base for her brand of whatever it is her brand is these days. That’s part of what, we’re sure, is still being worked out. We’re still going to bet that there isn’t the same audience for her deep-fried style as there was pre-controversy. But that there’s an audience at all means there’s hope for her now when it seemed pretty dismal before.

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