If you follow me on Instagram, you probably noticed a fun celebrity selfie last week. I got to meet Paula Deen, the Queen of Southen Cuisine! Let me back up and tell you about my experience.
A few weeks ago, I got an email from Paula Deen’s Social Media Coordinator inviting me to attend Paula Deen LIVE! to help promote the launch of Paula Deen’s new digital network. If you haven’t heard about her new network, here’s an overview:
The Paula Deen Network is an on-demand, interactive online cooking network filled with all the things you’ve always loved about Paula, plus great new surprises — new cooking and lifestyle shows; recipes that range from traditional Southern fare to quick, budget-friendly and healthy dinners perfect for any night of the week; and opportunities to have fun with Paula, her sons, her celebrity guests and a community of fans just like you. You can access the Network — and its powerful meal-planning, shopping list and step-by-step cooking tools — anytime, anywhere, on your computer, smartphone or tablet.
As a big fan of any and all cooking shows, and an even bigger fan of butter, I jumped at the opportunity!
Paula’s marketing team generously offered me two tickets to the live show and the VIP afterparty. Unable to convince JB that this was actually going to be fun, I invited my roommate Maddie to be my date. Before the show, we met up with my friend and old roomie Haley and her husband Steve, who were also attending the event. After picking up our tickets from Will Call, we made our way into the auditorium.
On our seats we found tote bags filled with goodies including Paula Deen’s cookbook and a baking pan! We listened to a band play while we waited for the show to begin. The music wasn’t exactly my taste but I can see how it could appeal to some older southern ladies. ;)
Soon enough, Paula Deen came out on stage with her husband, Michael. Fans were calling out from the audience, “Welcome back, Paula!” and “We love you, Paula!” She was visibly emotional as this was her first appearance in front of fans since all of last year’s drama. Next, her two sons Bobby and Jamie joined her!
I wasn’t sure what to expect going into the show. Was she going to cook for us? Was it going to be a talk show? It turned out to be sort of a mix! As I understand it, the Paula Deen Live experience was a sampling of the things that will be available on her new digital network.
Throughout the evening she cooked three dishes (along with the help of her husband and two sons ), showed behind-the-scenes videos of her every day life, talked a bunch, and even held a little game show.
During the cooking segments, Paula cooked three recipes that will be available on the Paula Deen Network. Fans were calling out from the balcony asking all kinds of questions like, “Where’s the butter?” and “Where can I get that bundt pan?” Paula always responded like they were old friends saying, “I don’t know, baby!” (Calling back her producers) “Hey guys, where did we get this bundt pan?” She was a hoot!
The game show was called, “What Did Paula Deen Just Put In My Mouth?” Four audience members were blindfolded and Paula spoon-fed them a combination of two ingredients.
The contestants had to correctly guess the ingredients to win a prize. All of the combinations seemed pretty terrible, but the worst combo had to be tuna fish and chocolate syrup. Poor girl, it was her birthday. At least she got it right!
Afterward, country music star Lee Greenwood came onstage and sang, “I’m Proud To Be An American.” Not sure how that fits in with cooking or Paula’s new network, but it was cool!
At the end of the evening, Paula and her family pulled down a chicken leg lever to officially launch the online network. Everyone cheered and lots of confetti rained down from the ceiling.
Maddie, Haley, Steve and I then made our way up stairs to the after hours social. We sipped on complimentary champagne and snacked on mini cheesecakes and chocolate covered strawberries while we chatted. We weren’t really sure what to expect next. Were we going to get to meet Paula?!
Eventually we saw the camera crew mingling with the crowd, along with members of the band, and even Lee Greenwood. We waited patiently, hoping Paula was going to make an appearance! Soon, the elevator doors opened and out stepped Paula Deen and her husband Michael! They were so sweet and made their way around the room chatting with fans. Her son Jamie proposed a toast and we all said, “CHEERS!” with glasses of champagne.
Paula Deen’s body guard was following her every move and announced that they needed to catch a flight to New York, so unfortunately they would have to cut the meet and greet time short. He posed Paula and Michael and counted to three, telling guests to snap their photos at that time. I hadn’t had a chance to say hi yet, and I guess I was feeling brave, because right after he counted to three I called out, “Hey Paula! Do you have time for one more photo?”
She was just the sweetest thing and came right over, grabbed my arm, and gave a great big smile. So much fun! So that’s the story of how I took a selfie with Paula Deen! Going to a live taping of the Oprah show was on my bucket list, but since she’s off the air now, meeting Paula Deen can certainly fill that space. If you have the chance to see Paula Deen live, I highly recommend it!