A top US television network on Friday dropped Paula Deen, the self-proclaimed queen of southern US cooking, from a show she has hosted for a decade after a series of racist remarks.
The Food Network said it would not renew Paula Deen’s contract when it expires at the end of the month, declining to provide further details on the reasons behind its decision.
However, just hours earlier, the 66-year-old celebrity chef had failed to show up for an interview on NBC’s Today show and then appeared in two online videos in which she begged her family and fans to forgive her for using “hurtful language.”
The white-haired, blue-eyed chef with a strong southern accent has faced criticism over her remarks in a deposition for a discrimination lawsuit filed by a former employee. Deen admitted in the document to using racist language in the workplace.
“I want to apologize to everybody for the wrong that I’ve done. I want to learn and grow from this,” Deen said haltingly in a first video posted on YouTube that was later removed from the video-sharing Web site.
“Inappropriate and hurtful language is totally, totally unacceptable,” she said.
In a longer video, Deen said: “Your color of your skin, your religion, your sexual preference does not matter.”
“I was wrong, yes, I’ve worked hard and I have made mistakes, but that is no excuse and I offer my sincere apology to those that I have hurt, and I hope that you forgive me because this comes from the deepest part of my heart,” she added.
Lisa Jackson, the general manager of Uncle Bubba’s Oyster House, filed a lawsuit against Deen last year claiming she had suffered sexual and racial discrimination at work.
Deen is a culinary institution in the US. In addition to several television shows, she has also published more than a dozen cookbooks, opened two restaurants (including Bubba’s) in Savannah, Georgia, and launched product lines.
Known for her love of butter and fried fare, Deen is no stranger to controversy.
Last year, fans were outraged when she announced she had type 2 diabetes and that same day backed diabetes drug Victoza and teamed up with its manufacturer Novo Nordisk in a lucrative deal.