A tearful Paula Deen received a standing ovation at the Metro Cooking & Entertaining show in Houston on Saturday, telling her audience, “These are tears of joy, y’all.”
The Southern chef said it was her first public appearance since the controversy surrounding her erupted three months ago. She told the crowd that she wanted to make her first appearance in Texas because “you are forgiving folks with hearts as big as your state,” according to People.
The controversy started when a former employee sued the chef and her brother for racial discrimination and sexual harassment. In June, Deen admitted in a deposition that she’d used racial slurs in the past, exacerbating the controversy.
As part of the fallout, Deen was fired from the Food Network and lost many lucrative endorsement deals.
After she finished her cooking demo at the Houston event on Saturday, People reported that she approached a cameraman, put her face close to the lens, and proclaimed, “I’m back!”