Paula Deen comeback tour coming this summer

Paula Deen announced Monday that she's holding 20 live shows in US cities starting in June. The tour is one part of a comeback strategy after Najafi Companies agreed to invest $75 million in the Paula Deen brand.

Approaching a year since the Food Network pulled the plug on her TV show, Paula Deen plans to hit the road this summer to cook live for fans.

Paula Deen Ventures, a new company formed to help launch a comeback for the celebrity cook, announced Monday that she's booking 20 shows in cities across the U.S. starting in June. It says the 90-minute "Paula Deen Live!" shows will feature a mix of cooking demonstrations, games with audience members and personal stories.

"I cannot wait to get on the road and meet so many of my amazing fans during these shows," Deen said in a statement.

The tour kicks off in June, a year after Deen's admission under oath that she had used racial slurs in the past became public.

The Savannah, Ga., restaurateur said in a May 2013 deposition related to a harassment lawsuit involving her brother, Bubba Hiers, that “of course” she had used the word "Nigger," but not in a “mean way.”

In part because Deen has been embraced by liberals like Oprah Winfrey and Kathy Griffin, and has been an avid Obama supporter, the N-word quotes shocked many of her fans and confirmed for many Northerners that behind that genteel facade and Sun Belt shine, the South hasn’t really changed. As Chicago Now columnist John Chatz wrote, “To many of us, the South still stands for slavery and the Civil War. This may be wrong and it may be simple, but people like Paula Deen help keep these opinions alive."

The Food Network and other corporate sponsors soon parted company with Deen. Her offending comments were during a court deposition in a lawsuit by a former employee making harassment and discrimination claims against Deen and her brother, Bubba Hiers. The suit was settled last August.

The cooking tour is the latest piece of a comeback strategy Deen rolled out in February when she announced a deal with the Najafi Companies, an Arizona-based private investment firm that's pouring $75 to $100 million into rebooting her public career.

Only five cities on Deen's tour schedule have been announced so far, and all of them are located in her Southern comfort zone. Deen has booked two August shows in her home base of Savannah, followed by another up the highway in Atlanta. She also plans to cook for crowds in Nashville, Tenn., and San Antonio, Texas.

The tour kicks off June 21 and 22 with two shows in the Smoky Mountains tourist hub of Pigeon Forge, Tenn., where Deen has a new $20 million restaurant in the works.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.