A woman of
Paula Deen cooks up a heartfelt memoir
Pennie Clark Ianniciello
Costco Book Buyer
I LOVE Paula Deen’s
cookbooks, which we
have carried at Costco,
and her fantastic recipes
have been featured in our
own cookbook, Cooking
in Style The Costco Way
(find them at costco.com,
under “Costco Connection
Magazine”). But I never
knew about her beyond
the smiling face you see
in her cookbooks and
Now that I have read
her memoir, I am more in
awe of her than before.
She overcame a variety of
the successful, vibrant
person she is today.
Paula Deen: It Ain’t
All About the Cookin’ is
available at most Costco
warehouses and at
By Tim Talevich
“I’D LIVED FOR 20 years in anguish, waiting every out for years, but she had agoraphobia—the fear of
day to die,” writes Paula Deen, one of America’s open spaces—which left her virtually homebound,
most popular chefs. struggling to raise two young boys. With a husband
Is this the same Paula Deen who today enter- who couldn’t hold a job, the family lived in varying
tains television audiences on The Food Network degrees of poverty and despair.
with her matronly Southern charm, down-to-earth Yet somehow Deen managed to open a small
plain talk and fabulous recipes? The restaurant, The Lady, in Savannah.
author of a series of top-selling cook- And from there she took a series of
books ... the owner of a lines-around- risks to expand the business, write
the-block restaurant in Savannah, cookbooks and, rather miraculously,
Georgia ... a part-time movie actress? find herself on The Food Network in
Yes, the same. Behind today’s suc- 2002 and appearing in a small role in
cessful and happy Paula Deen is a the movie Elizabethtown in 2005.
sorrowful past that she candidly relates In introducing the memoir, Deen
in a memoir, Paula Deen: It Ain’t All promises that she’ll tell the whole
About the Cookin’, this month’s Book story, unfiltered. But only because her
Pick. It’s a rags-to-riches story, uncom- story offers inspiration, she says.
fortable in the former—but ultimately “I want to let people know that
inspiring in the latter to anybody who you can make bad choices, and maybe
has a dream to be better. Paula Deen not always do the right thing,” she says.
“I laughed a lot and I cried a lot “But that doesn’t mean that you can’t
while this book was being put together,” Deen tells be successful. I think the important thing is that
The Connection in her soft, pleasant drawl during a when we do make these mistakes, we learn from
phone interview. them. That makes us much richer people.”
Her story begins with an idyllic childhood in True to her real passion, Deen mixes in favorite
rural Georgia, where she spent time in her grand- recipes that have significance for different times in
mother’s kitchen and the savory Southern culinary her life. But there’s more food for the soul here than
world of turtle soup, fried chicken, collard greens, for the taste buds. The most important point, she
sweet tea, fried peach pie and peanut butter balls. says, is never give up. And second, always risk—but
In high school, it was dating, beauty pageants, girls’ only if there’s a chance for success.
slumber parties and cheerleading. But it would all “I tell people to never, never give up,” she says. “If
collapse in the span of a few years in Deen’s early you’re passionate about something, never give up. I
20s, when both her parents died suddenly and young, heard ‘no’ more times than I could ever shake a stick
and her husband became abusive. at. But that passion inside me finally won out.”
The next two decades of Deen’s life were as dark Deen, now 60, writes that what she really wanted
as the first two were innocent. She couldn’t figure it in life was to be a “woman of substance”—a strong,
principled, responsible person who would save her
own life and make a good living for her sons.
Her own inspiration was a book, A Woman of
eligible to win. One entry Substance, by Barbara Taylor Bradford, that
per household. Entries Deen read when she was 25.
must be received or “Oh, I just loved that book,” she writes. “I
postmarked by May 1, whispered to myself that when I really grew up,
2007. Winners will be I would also be a woman of substance. I would
randomly selected and have grandchildren and they would call me
notified by mail on or Grandlady—that’s what they called the grand-
before June 1, 2007. mother in the book.”
The value of the prize I suggest that, after writing such a candid
is $25. Void where prohibited. memoir, she has become such a woman. “Oh,
Winners are responsible for all thank ya,” she replies with a blush in her voice. C
applicable federal, state and local
taxes. The decision of the judges
is final. Employees of Costco or
Simon & Schuster and their families are not eligible.
COSTCO HAS 25 copies of Paula
Deen’s Paula Deen: It Ain’t All
About the Cookin’ to give away.
To enter, print your name, membership number, address and daytime phone number on a postcard
or letter and send it to: Paula
Deen, The Costco Connection,
P.O. Box 34088, Seattle, WA 98124-
1088, or fax it to (425) 313-6718.
No purchase is necessary.
Only current Costco members are
To read April book previews, enter a
book giveaway and read publishing
industry news, see the Online Edition. Go to costco.
com and click on “Costco Connection Magazine.”