"Hi, I'm back!"
Paula Deen wooed a Houston crowd Saturday during her first appearance since the revelation that she used a racial slur in the past, according to CNN affiliate KPRC.
The Southern food diva looked straight into the lens of a camera, waved, smiled and winked as a sold-out audience of 1,500 cheered her on during a cooking demonstration at the Metropolitan Cooking and Entertainment Show.
After a standing ovation, Deen wiped the tears on her face and told the crowd, "These are tears of joy, y'all. I've said all along that the one place I'd want to make my first step back out was Texas."
A federal judge has dismissed the racial discrimination claims in a lawsuit filed by a former employee against Paula Deen, the celebrity chef's representative said Monday. Some other aspects of the lawsuit are still pending.
"We are pleased with the Court's ruling today that Lisa Jackson's claims of race discrimination have been dismissed," Deen's representatives said in a statement to CNN. "As Ms. Deen has stated before, she is confident that those who truly know how she lives her life know that she believes in equal opportunity, kindness and fairness for everyone."
Some die-hard fans are getting all wrapped up in a campaign to defend Paula Deen.
They're sending cleaned and origami-folded butter wrappers to Food Network and other companies that dropped the popular chef and cookbook author in the wake of allegations of racism and sexual harassment. Deen later admitted to "of course" using the n-word. The wrappers are intended as signs of protest - physical declarations of "we're sticking with Paula."
FBI agents on Friday morning arrested a 62-year-old man who, they say, tried to extort Paula Deen by threatening to divulge "true and damning" information about the embattled celebrity chef - unless he was paid to keep quiet.
Thomas George Paculis was taken into custody without incident in Ithaca, New York, by FBI agents and deputies from the Tompkins County Sheriff's Office, the FBI said in a press release.
There was no answer later Friday to a phone number linked to him in the FBI's criminal complaint, nor was there an immediate response from an e-mail address in that same document.
As Paula Deen's home-goods empire unravels, companies making or distributing her products - everything from pots and pans to dishes and scented candles - may be left with a messy situation of their own.
Several large stores, including the world's largest retailer Wal-Mart, announced last week that they would stop selling Paula Deen products. Target, Home Depot, Sears, J.C. Penney and QVC also said they would discontinue her merchandise.
Visit Eatocracy’s new home
Don't miss a single new story. Visit us at our (temporary) new home on CNN.com