Paula Deen, born Paulann Hiers, started her life on January 19, 1947. She was born in Albany, Georgia to Corrie and Earl Hiers. Her daddy sold cars and her mother ran the souvenir shop that the family owned. Paula's grandmother's Paul and Hiers were the cooks of the family. Those ladies taught her just about everything she knows, at least when it comes to cooking. Paula has a brother, Earl Hiers Jr. or better known as Uncle Bubba.
By the time she was 23 years old, both of her parents had passed and she became the guardian of her then 16 year old brother. Paula also got married at the tender age of 18 to Jimmy Deen and they had two boys Jamie and Bobby Deen. After the death of her father, Paula had agoraphobia. She was so afraid that just walking outside would kill her. It would soon be a challenge she would have to over come in order where she is at now.
The Start of Something Good
Paula went through some really hard times in her life and she would have guessed that her dream would come true with only $200. That's right only $200 would start her business and her life in a direction filled with love. It was in June 1989 that Paula started The Bag Lady, where she cooked food in her kitchen and sent her boys out to the local businesses. Her menu started with simple things like sandwiches and salads but it was home cooked food. It wasn't to long after she started her business out of her home that she began to get more and more requests and orders. Should made enough money to help her business grow, so she started adding things to her menu. It was like she struck gold with her new found friends only it was with food. Paula did what she loved and what she knew, that was cooking. Cooking for Paula was something that she knew no matter what it was she could make it and then make it into her own.
In about 1991, Paula's little home business would grow. It would grow into something only dreams were made of. The Bag Lady grew into The Lady in the Best Western hotel but it wouldn't take to long before that dream of Paula's would take off again. It took a lot from Paula and her boys to the Lady & Sons Restaurant off the ground. To the point of an overdrawn bank account and hopes almost getting smashed to pieces. With her dreams in her hands, Paula began to think of a new and better place for her restaurant. She wanted somewhere where it fit the style of food she offered. When she found that perfect spot it was a long term agreement that would be settled on a hand shake and a smile, no papers. It took eight months of renovations for the The Lady & Sons to open their doors in downtown on January 8, 1996. When the doors to the restaurant opened the same familiar faces and some new would just flock to The Lady & Sons. Her restaurant must have been the best because the line just to get in would be down the street and around the corner.
In December 1999, Lady & Sons was named "International Meal of the Year" by USA Today and in December 2002, her restaurant was featured in Southern Living Magazine. This wasn't the only big thing for Paula, her restaurant would soon grow again in 2003 just before she started Paula's Home Cooking on Food Network. The Lady & Son's grew into a 200 year-old three-story building plus basement with 15,000 square feet of dining, full service bar and office space.
Now, with Paula's brother Bubba, he wanted a piece of the action as well and they decided to Open Uncle Bubba's Oyster House.
Books & Magazines
Paula started with just writing cookbooks just like other cooks and chefs would do. In 1997, she self-published The Lady & Sons Savannah Country Cooking and The Lady & Sons Savannah Country Cooking. With her first two cookbooks doing so well she went ahead with more cookbooks and in April 2007, Simon & Schuster published Deen's memoir, It Ain't All About the Cookin'. Paula also went ahead with her own magazine called Cooking with Paula Deen in November 2005.
On The Big Screen
It would all start in 1999 with Food Network. They didn't have enough room for Ms. Paula just yet so they put her on a couple of other shows until November 2002 when she finally was on her way with Paula's Home Cooking. They first started taping at her friends house in New York but come 2005 they would start to tape in Paula's home in Savannah, GA. With a short time she would have two more shows with Food Network called "Paula's Party" and "Paula's Best Dishes." Who would have ever thought that this bright and fun loving woman with agoraphobia in her past would grow into one of the best cooks out there.
- Deen, Paula. It Ain't All about the Cookin'. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007.
- Deen. Paula. Living It Up, Southern Style. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2005.
- Deen, Paula. Lady and Sons Just Desserts. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002.
- Wikipedia. "Paula Deen." December 2, 2009 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paula_Deen>.
- Food Network. "Paula Deen." <http://www.foodnetwork.com/paula-deen/index.html>.