Celebrity chef Paula Deen is in hot water.
The Food Network star was forced to admit she has used the N-word and made racist jokes several times in the past as part of a deposition in a sexual harassment lawsuit. The Southern television personality is being sued by a former employee of her Paula's Oyster House restaurant in Georgia, with the worker claiming racism and sexual harassment.
When asked in the deposition if she had ever used the N-word, Deen replied, "yes, of course." Deen went on to say she used the controversial word "when a Black man burst into the bank that I was working at and put a gun to my head."
"I didn't feel real favorable towards him," she added. The Paula's Home Cooking host went on to say she used the derogatory term on other occasions, sometimes when repeating racist jokes and "conversations between Blacks."
Deen closed out her deposition by saying "that's just not a word that we use as time has gone on." She added, "things have changed since the '60s in the south. And my children and my brother object to that word being used in any cruel or mean behavior. As well as I do."
After the transcripts of Deen's deposition went viral, her reps told TMZ, "Ms. Deen does not condone or find the use of racial epithets acceptable. She is looking forward to her day in court."
While the scandal will likely cost Deen her warm-and-cuddly image to many fans, at least one of her colleagues is standing up for her. Chef Joe Randall, who runs the Savannah Cooking School where Deen took courses, says that while "her admitting to using derogatory language and the n-word is very hurtful," Deen would still be "welcome in my establishment like any other client would be. I wouldn't turn her down at all."
Randall, one of the most famous Black chefs in the country, tells TMZ, "you have to understand we're in the South and some people think that it's acceptable to use [racist] language from 50 years ago." He adds, "although I don't respect that she used derogatory hateful words ... and if she came into my establishment and we were to talk, I would tell her I don't agree with her words."
The butter-loving chef has built an empire off of her popular television cooking show, and is worth an estimated $16 million. She resides in Savannah, Georgia.
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