After several months out of the spotlight, Paula Deen returned to the public sphere during the 2014 South Beach Wine and Food Festival in Miami, Fla., where the former Food Network chef used a cooking demonstration as a stage for a public apology.
“I am not a quitter,” Deen told the crowd. “I have heard on more than one occasion … that I’ve never apologized. So if anybody did not hear me apologize, I would like to apologize to those who did not hear me.”
Coming on the heels of the announcement that private investment firm Najafi Companies has agreed to invest up to $100 million in her newly formed Paula Deen Ventures, her blanket public apology, given at one of the biggest culinary showcases of the year, is not a surprising one. Paula Deen Ventures will oversee the entirety of Deen’s business empire, including her restaurants, cookbooks, and endorsements.
In a reenactment of a stunt from the 2011 festival, chef Robert Irvine, who has also faced scrutiny for unsavory claims of his own, got on his hands and knees while Paula climbed on his back and rode him across the stage.
“I’m back in the saddle!” Deen yelled to the crowd.
For the uninitiated, this spectacle gave birth to the internet phenomenon Paula Deen Rides Things (most recently, a space rooster).
Karen Lo is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @appleplexy.