Paula Deen: It Ain't All About the Cookin'

Paula Deen: It Ain't All About the Cookin'


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• Fans love Paula Deen: Paula Deen: It Ain’t About the Cookin’ spent over 3 months on the New York Times bestseller list: there are over 500,000 hardcovers in print..

• A superstar author: Paula Deen is an American icon. She is one of the most popular hosts on the Food Network and with more than 6 million books in print, an expanding restaurant empire, her own line of furniture, cookware, and tableware, Paula’s fame and retail power will only continue to grow..

• Rags-to-riches, the real Paula Deen: Starting with only $200 and plenty of faith and courage, Paula achieved success beyond her wildest dreams. She speaks to readers as frankly about her struggles along the way, including her difficult first marriage and her battle with agoraphobia. .

• Fairy tale marriage: Paula gives all the details on the romance with tugboat captain Michael Groover that ?captured the hearts of fans across the country. .

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781439163351
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 11/03/2009
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 814,228
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

Paula Deen is the bestselling author of thirteen books and an Emmy Award–winning Food Network television star. She was born and raised in Albany, Georgia. She later moved to Savannah, where she started The Bag Lady catering company. The business took off and evolved into The Lady & Sons restaurant, which is located in Savannah’s historic district and specializes in Southern cooking. She also co-owns Uncle Bubba’s Oyster House with her brother. Paula publishes a bimonthly magazine, Cooking with Paula Deen, and is a regular guest on QVC, where she sells her books and food products.

Sherry Suib Cohen has written twenty-one books for major publishers and was a contributing editor at McCall's, Rosie, New Woman, and Lifetime magazines. She regularly writes for periodicals, including Parade, Family Circle, Redbook, Reader's Digest, and Ladies' Home Journal. Cohen is an award-winning member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and lives with her husband, Larry, in New York City. She makes a great soup.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1


What did I have, what was makin' me so scared that my heart about beat out of my chest? I just knew I was gonna die, knew my heart couldn't stand this kind of pressure, and it had happened too many times before. Almost every last time I had to go outside by myself, that panic would start in and drop me to my knees. Couldn't breathe, couldn't stop trembling. I felt weak and nauseated and dizzy, and I just knew I was gonna die in front of other people. If I dropped over in public, think how horribly humiliatin' it would be.

But, oh Lord, the magnolias smelled so damn good out my window, and all morning I'd been fixin' to take my eleven-year-old son, Jamie, to baseball practice. After, I figured I'd hang out at the mall store in the housewares section, then maybe go strollin' for a bit, just to breathe deep some of that sweet Georgia air. I wanted to walk through my door so bad and maybe today I could do it; maybe today I could go outside.

There would be no breathin' deep, no goin' outside. The thought of outside grabbed my gut like a 'coon grabs a chicken. I started to sweat and my arms lost all feeling, like they belonged on someone else. At the very least, I was likely to faint at any moment. Would there be someone to see me, someone who would catch me if one of those panicky attacks came back and I lost control and fainted outside? Oh, my stars, I was frightened silly.

It was 1978, and I was thirty-one years old. Was this the day I was finally going to die, the day I'd secretly been waiting for and dreading ever since my daddy passed almost thirteen years ago now?

Well, maybe not, if I stopped thinking of going outside.

You're safe, Paula, I told myself. You're safe inside this house. No one's makin' you go out, you won't die today. Fact is — don't you remember — y'all canceled the boys' after-school stuff for the whole year.

What sickness did I have? What had happened to me? My terror had no name — least none I'd ever heard. I was alone with it. So scared about goin' outside.

It wasn't always this way.

Copyright © 2007 by Paula Deen


I never call myself a chef. Never went to Chef School. Never made a Blanquette de Veau. Never met a boxed cake mix I didn't like.

I'm a cook. Learned at my grandmomma's stove. But I can cook, honey, cook rings around those tall-white-hatted chefs.

My fried chicken, my grits — oh my stars, you'll think you died and went to heaven.

Like everyone else on this earth, there's a story behind the cook, behind the recipes, behind the woman.

So, y'all, here is what the publisher calls my memoirs.

How did they come about? Well, I've written five cookbooks, and after each one, I got thousands of letters from people asking about my personal life, not just my life with grits. Until now, I haven't been about ready to do that. Maybe if you heard the truth about Paula Deen, about the mistakes I made in my life, how bad my judgment's been at times, and how guilty I still feel because my mothering wasn't always so wonderful...well, maybe you wouldn't be quite as lovin' to me as you have been. And that would kill me.

If I could get back one wrong I did to my family, if I could choose some words I could take back and eat 'em down so they would never have seen the light, it would be the day I told my son Jamie I hated him. I can barely write those words now. I love my sons more than life, but we were in the heat of the battle of starting a restaurant business, trying to get all those people fed, and I felt like Jamie was pulling against me, rather than with me. If I could only live that day over, oh, I would. You'd better believe I learned that the spoken word can never be taken back. Sure, you can apologize for it, but you and the person you hurt will never, ever forget. Forgive, maybe, if you're real lucky.

I've asked for a lot of forgiveness in my life and I've given it as well. You know what? In church, they always tell you to forgive your enemies. Seems to me it's even harder to forgive our loved ones and friends, but it's much more important to do so because it's the people we love who can hurt us the most. The terrible thing I said to Jamie taught me to speak with more care and try not to let my instinct for survival get me so mad I'll give pain to someone close to me. But can you imagine me, a mother who loves her boys beyond love, saying such a thing to her own child?

I'll tell you something else: in all the things that have been written about me, there's something that's been left out of the tellin'. I'm a smoker. There, I said it. Hardly anyone outside my family knows that, and it embarrasses me because it's an addiction I can't be quit of, though I try every day. They say Jackie Kennedy was a chain smoker, but she would never allow herself to be photographed with a cigarette — and I get that real well because I also try my damndest to see that no one takes my picture with one. I love my fans so much and I hate to disappoint them; to see me with such a weakness will surely upset them. I still need to walk into a room where they're waiting with my head up.

But suddenly, somehow, it's time to show and tell — warts and all. I plan to tell some hard secrets in these pages, but it's taken a long time to get up the nerve to do so. Try ten years. Maybe twenty.

Mostly, I want to share with you that I'm livin' proof that the American dream is alive and well, that you can be an imperfect person and still end up with so much fun in your life you can hardly stand it. I'm prayin' that if even one of you out there gets some inspiration from the way my own American dream turned into reality, it'll be worth playing true confessions here.

You should know this: you gotta be willin' to work for that American dream — work for it, and feel the passion. You gotta truly be in love with what you do. If you have a wild hair to fly a circus trapeze, to chug out to sea on a tug, to own a restaurant when you haven't much more than a dime to your name, or to search for true love even when you're no spring chicken — go for it. Sure, luck plays a part, but here's the thing: the harder I work, the luckier I get.

A warning: you may be a little shocked at some of the language in this book, and that's another weakness of mine. I tell people who come to my cooking class that sometimes I can be a little bawdy and I sure hope that don't upset them. But I'm my father's daughter, and I'm banking on one thing, and I'm not budging on this: my God has a sense of humor even if what I say has a four-letter word in it. I think He'd want me to laugh. What's in my heart is not irreverence but a full knowledge that God's laughing too.

So, this is a book wishin' you best dishes from my house to yours, but it's also a look into my home, my true life, my loves, and my Southern heart.

Copyright © 2007 by Paula Deen

Table of Contents



1 Terror with No Name

2 Something Smells Good

3 On Not Listening to Yo' Momma

4 How Do You Get to Be a Woman of Substance When Your World's Fallin' Apart?

5 The Terror Did Have a Name

6 The Bag Lady

7 The Bottoming Out and the New Beginning

8 What I Did for Love

9 The Lady & Sons

10 Sharing Recipes

11 Love on a Tug: Michael

12 How I Got My Own Television Show, and It Wasn't No Desperate Housewives

13 Backstage Secrets and a Weddin' to Beat All

14 Blend. Don't Mix, Stir, or Beat

15 Food, Glorious Food, Southern Style

16 So You Want to Own a Restaurant?

17 Scenes from a Life: Growth, Cameron, Mr. Jimmy, Bubba, and Me

18 Southern Comfort: Things I've Learned


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Paula Deen: It Ain't All About the Cookin' 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 45 reviews.
FeB13 More than 1 year ago
If you're a fan of Paula Deen, this book will only make you love her more. She puts herself out there for the world to understand that the only person that is in your way of being happy in your life is you, and no obstacle is too big to overcome. To know where she's been and see how far she's come is an inspirational book for anyone.
LabMomNC More than 1 year ago
I found this memoir to be very real. The one thing about Paula is she never does anything half way. Some of the intimacies she reveals in the book border on TMI, but it seems she set out to bare her soul and that is what she did. Raucus, rowdy, and feriociously loving, Paula tells her story with honesty and humor. She made me laugh as she always does. Great read. Inspirational.
JoAnnRyan More than 1 year ago
Love her or hate her, (personally I love her and all her butter lovin' ways, too) Paula Deen is an American fixture and a hard-working self-made woman. and that deserves respect. I just got through reading her autobiography It Ain't All About the Cooking. I know it came out a few years ago, but that's just how life goes sometimes. I'm so glad that I was finally able to pick it up. As a woman who has been through plenty of hard knocks myself, I found her story very relatable. She's a woman who made mistakes (failed marriage, affair with a married man) and faced a lot of tough obstacles (agoraphobia, no money) but she had the courage to move on and become "a woman of substance". successful restaurant owner, cookbook author and Food Network queen. Ultimately, she never let the negative things in her life weigh her down. That to me makes her story enjoyable and very inspiring. Of course it couldn't be a Paula Deen autobiography without her including some really great recipes! Mississippi Mud Cake, Biscuits & Sawmill Gravy and her Grandmomma's Fried & Steamed Chicken, . it ain't diet food, it's comfort food!
PBWriter36 More than 1 year ago
I read this book in an afternoon and it was very refreshing. Much of what I read, I had already heard from interviews but it was very fun 'hearing' it in her voice from the beginning. It was written very matter-of-fact and quite honestly. I wasn't a big fan of her cooking shows (sorry) since I favor Medditerranean cuisine but have visited her restaurant in Savannah (Lady & Sons) and found the fried green tomatoes and seafood chowder fantastic. And butter aside, I find HER extremely likeable (I may even try some recipes found in this lil' book ya'll). Good Read!
Allieksmith More than 1 year ago
I didn't know many things about Paula until I read this book, I would highly recommend it to ANYONE, even if you don't cook or even like Paula Deen. She tells her story well, including her struggles, mistakes, ups and downs, and triumphs. This is a really great read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought it would be interesting to learn a little bit about Paula's background.....Well, I now know and I love her even more! What a great book! I love the honesty and the wisdom she gives. One of my favorite biographies.
MommyOfMunch More than 1 year ago
I'm not a really big Paula Deen fan, but I found this in a bargain bin and I love memoirs so I read it. I loved her candid storytelling, the insight into her life and family, and I loved her commentary on random things. I haven't tried any of the recipes that end each chapter, but I definitely will be! I enjoyed the quotes that introduced each chapter as well. I can think of a few people who will enjoy this book, also. I would recommend it.
ValG More than 1 year ago
I didn't know Paula Deen until today. I swear I bought her book only because It was at a $1.99 price and I knew she was a great cook. It is funny how God works and sends you the info you need just in the right moment. That is what happened here. (I'm working on m own book and needed a bit of inspiration). Now, about the book. It's heart warming and heart breaking. When we read the true story about a TV celebrity, we usually expect easiness and la vie en rose, basically. Well Paula´s story is completely different. She tells you all the details of her success, including those that are terrible decisions, bad moments and how she got trough them. It's definitely something that will inspire you, and let you see how lucky you're. I really hope you read it, it will be worth the time and money spent on this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love Paula Deen!! She deserves a second chance. Haven't we all said something we shouldn't have, or done things we regret? Michael Vick was killing dogs and he got back on the football field, really???!!! So why shouldn't Paula be allowed on tv, or sell another cookbook??!! Give her a break!!!
Marguerite52 More than 1 year ago
I loved Paula's book and the way she talks about her past, present and yes dreams of the future. As I read her story I smiled, laughed and yes cried, then smiled some more. A must read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the book from the beginning to the end. Paula Deen explains how she came to be as a cook and celebrity. She did not hold back and told her 'secrets' with dignity and grace. Some of her revelations must have been difficult to disclose. God bless her soul! I admire her honesty and courage and I especially admire her dedication to family. Good book to read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Payula deen wgas being racest agents blacks so she and her books sucks
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