After years of being largely shunned from the mainstream, celebrity chef Paula Deen is hitting FOX airwaves this Wednesday for an episode of “MasterChef: Legends.”
Deen will appear as the third “legend” in Season 11 of “MasterChef,” according to Gold Derby.
“Known for her fatty cuisines and yummy desserts, this Southern belle follows in the footsteps of Emeril Lagasse and Curtis Stone, the first two culinary geniuses to serve as mentors/judges during the audition round,” the report outlined, adding that the former Food Network star will be working alongside host Gordon Ramsey and judges Joe Bastianich and Aaron Sanchez.
Deen was cut from Food Network in 2013 over racially-charged revelations from a lawsuit that was ultimately dismissed. Delish.com outlined the controversy:
June 19, 2013 — While she was being deposed during a lawsuit brought against her by Lisa Jackson, the former general manager of her Savannah, Georgia restaurant Uncle Bubba’s Seafood and Oyster House, Deen admits to using the n-word in the past: “Yes, of course.”
During the same deposition, she also says “that’s just not a word that we use as time has gone on. Things have changed since the ’60s in the south. And my children and my brother object to that word being used in any cruel or mean behavior. As well as I do.”
June 19, 2013 — Jackson also claimed Deen wanted her African American employees behave a certain way during a wedding Deen was planning. “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,” Radar Deen as saying about the party during a deposition.
A rep for Deen later told TMZ: “Ms. Deen does not condone or find the use of racial epithets acceptable. She is looking forward to her day in court.”
Deen tried to rehabilitate her image and emphasize that she’s “not a racist” and that her past regrettable language was shaped by time and location. But the effort failed. Deen’s endorsements and corporate ties dried up. She was essentially banned from the mainstream aside from rare appearances on shows like “Dancing with the Stars.”
This week’s Fox appearance seems more significant, as Deen is being honored for culinary skills.
Notably, the lawsuit that tanked Deen was dismissed in August 2013. PEOPLE magazine reported at the time:
Paula Deen and a former employee have reached a settlement to dismiss the remaining claims in a lawsuit that cost the celebrity chef a chunk of her empire.
The U.S. District Court in Savannah, Ga., on Friday formally dismissed the sexual harassment case with prejudice, meaning it can’t be filed again, just days after the judge threw out the racial discrimination portion of the lawsuit.
A court document said both sides reached the settlement “without any award of costs or fees to any party.”
The former employee, Lisa Jackson, released a statement saying Deen was not personally responsible.
“I assumed that all of my complaints about the workplace environment were getting to Paula Deen, but I learned during this matter that this was not the case,” said Jackson. “The Paula Deen I have known for more than eight years is a woman of compassion and kindness and will never tolerate discrimination or racism of any kind toward anyone. I now know that the workplace environment issues that I raised are being reviewed and will in the future no longer be at issue.”
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