Tonight, Paula Deen makes an uncomfortable and ethically unnecessary appearance on MasterChef Legends. That's right, Paula Deen, the former food show personality known for her love of butter and casually using the "N-word" is back on television, and people are beyond furious. As they should be. It's unclear why Deen was chosen to appear on MasterChef Legends when there are plenty of talented chefs who aren't bigots.
If you aren't caught up on Paula Deen's long-ago cancellation, we'll give you a recap.
Yes, Paula Deen is racist.
In 2013, Paula Deen was being sued by Lisa Jackson, the former general manager of Uncle Bubba's Seafood and Oyster House (Deen's former restaurant), and it came out during the deposition that Deen used the "N-word." When asked if she used it, Deen stated, "Yes, of course." It gets worse. Deen was also accused of ordering her Black employees to act as though they were slaves.
"I mean, it was really impressive. That restaurant represented a certain era in America … after the Civil War, during the Civil War, before the Civil War … It was not only Black men, it was Black women … I would say they were slaves," Deen was quoted in the deposition transcript, via Radar. Dora Charles, a former employee of Deen's, claims that Deen tried to make her wear an Aunt Jemima-inspired outfit and ring a bell when food was ready.
“I said, ‘I’m not ringing no bell. That’s a symbol to me of what we used to do back in the day,'" Charles said.
And then, after the 2013 deposition, HuffPost uncovered a clip of Deen referring to Black people as "these people" and "workers." She said, "Black folk were such integral part of our lives [during the Civil War], they were like our family." Here's the full transcript from her 2013 deposition.
Even the late Anthony Bourdain hated Deen (this was before her racism came to light). "The worst, most dangerous person to America is clearly Paula Deen. She revels in unholy connections with evil corporations and she’s proud of the fact that her food is f--king bad for you. Plus, her food sucks," he said in an interview with TV Guide. He later called her "greedy" after she expressed that she was hurt by his statements.
What happened after the deposition transcript leaked was pretty swift: The Food Network announced that it wouldn't be renewing her contract for her show, Paula's Home Cooking, and QVC dropped her, too. Big retailers like Target and Walmart (publicly) wanted nothing to do with her. Although Deen issued several apologies, her image crumbled. But perhaps not her career.
Eater points out that after the scandal, "She raised at least $75 million for her company Paula Deen Ventures from a private investment firm. She bought the rights to her Food Network shows and began streaming them on the Paula Deen Network, her own subscription streaming platform." Deen was on Dancing With the Stars, launched a cookware store, a new restaurant, and she even got a new show on Food Network: Southern Fried Road Trip.
Her last show was a short-lived series called Positively Paula which aired on RFD-TV — but the point is that even though Deen was called out for her despicable behavior, Deen continued to profit off of her incredibly problematic brand.
Now that she's on MasterChef Legends (which airs on Fox), people are calling out the heinous decision to use Deen as a judge, let alone call her a "legend."
"Remember when Paula Deen got 'canceled' for saying the N-word? Now she on MasterChef being called a 'legend.' Moral of the story? Getting canceled don't really mean anything," someone tweeted.
Let's hope Deen is never asked to make another public appearance again.