Celebrity chef Paula Deen drew a standing ovation from a crowd of several hundred people Sunday in Miami Beach as she made her fourth public appearance since a controversy over her admitted use of a racial epithet in the past.
"We have come off a hard summer ... my family and my partners ... and I want to take a moment to apologize to those of you who didn't hear me. I hope you see us bring back good memories for you," an emotional Deen told the crowd at the prestigious South Beach Wine and Food Festival.
Looking thinner than she has in the past and appearing overjoyed by the exuberant reception, Deen said she used her months out of the spotlight to spend a lot of quality time with her grandchildren. While Deen was preparing one of her famous dumpling dishes, she invited celebrity chef Robert Irvine to the stage, and Irvine then jokingly said to her "you apologized. You've eaten crow. Just don't do it anymore."
Deen told the audience that it was their cards and letters that helped her during and after the controversy, even personally thanking a young man in the audience from New Jersey who mailed her inspirational Bible verses.
Deen's career and public reputation went into a tailspin in June after her deposition in a lawsuit brought by a former restaurant employee was released. In the videotaped deposition, Deen admitted using the "N word" in the past.