"You may think you know the butter-loving, finger-licking, joke-cracking queen of cuisine...but you have never heard the intimate details of her often bumpy road to fame and fortune."
Paula Deen grew up in a stereotypical family in Albany, Georgia. Her parents ran a local store where she used to raid the candy counter. While Paula did not excel in academics, her exuberant personality helped her get a spot on the cheerleading squad in high school. She fell in love with a handsome hunk and the two married when she turned 18.
The couple had two healthy baby boys and Paula Deen settled in as a housewife. Early on in the marriage, Paula lost first her father, to a botched operation, and then her mother, to cancer. Paula struggled with anxiety, manifesting itself in the form of agoraphobia. To make matters worse, Jimmy Deen was not a good provider and struggled to hold down a decent job.
Paula went out and got a job as a bank teller. But not long after, she was held up at gunpoint, aggravating her agoraphobia. She was confined to the house and would not go out for days, fearing that something terrible would happen to her as it had to her parents. Caught between a rock and a hard place, she knew that she had to provide for her family.
Paula had always loved her grandmother's recipes. She dreamed up the idea to start The Bag Lady, providing downtown businessmen with a bagged lunch. She would work early in the morning preparing sandwiches which her teenage boys would deliver downtown each day.
The success of the Bag Lady gave birth to The Lady, a restaurant located in the Best Western. Paula drew on the customers the former customers who had purchased her sandwiches. The Lady was also a success.
The Lady gave birth to The Lady & Sons, a restaurant Paula opened in Savannah, Georgia along with her two sons. Still not financially ready, Paula's aunt gave her a $25,000 loan for the business. The restaurant was a roaring success and within a few years, Paula found a bigger space for her restaurant. Paula's restaurant provided her with a stepping stone for her first cookbook, and her first television series.
In the meantime, Paula remarried and has had a successful marriage for ten years. It's rewarding to see someone overcome such adversity.
Note: For more information about Paula's first cookbook, read my post: