14 Facts about Paula Deen
In 1989, Paula, recently divorced with two young children and living in Savannah with only $200 to her name, launched a small catering company called The Bag Lady, for which she prepared sandwiches that she and her sons went out and sold.
Paula, a self-professed "late bloomer," didn't get the idea to be a professional cook until she was 42 years old.
Paula often cooks with what she calls one of her favorite ingredients: butter.
Both Paula's parents died by the time she was 23. She says their deaths led to a fear of death, and eventually brought on her battle with chronic agoraphobia. Her fear of leaving the house became even more intense when she was held up at gunpoint when she was a bank teller. Eventually she was able to overcome her illness without therapy.
Paula self-published her first cookbook in 1997 called "The Lady & Sons Savannah Country Cookbook."
Paula has one grandchild, Jack Linton, who was born August 21, 2006, to her son Jamie and his wife, Brooke.
In 2008, Paula rang the NASDAQ closing bell nearly 20 years after starting her cooking business.
She was included twice (in 2007 and 2008) in Forbes' list of 100 Most Powerful Celebrities.
In September 2008, she hosted Michelle Obama on her Food Network show "Paula's Party," where they made Paula's favorite recipe: fried shrimp. Paula promised Michelle she would make fried chicken for her family, should they move into the White House.
In 2008, in partnership with Smithfield Foods, Paula created the Helping Hungry Homes program. In less than two years, they have fed over two million hungry people.