Really Paula? Y’all Don’t See the Disconnect?

For years I have been a captive viewer of the Food Network and have enjoyed, learned and experimented with many recipes and ideas from the chefs on the programs.  Some of them (like Emeril) you tire of and other’s are just entertaining.  Paula hit the scene and we were all mesmerized by the sheer volume of fat, butter and sugar she laced into every recipe.  He ha…Southern Cooking.  The stuff that plugs up arteries and sends your pancreas (insulin device) into shock.  I don’t think I ever replicated any of her recipes for two reasons.  I knew I would love the flavor, who wouldn’t like the flavor of butter, fat and sugar,  and I also new that too much of Paula would do me in at some point down the road. 

  I was at a BlogHer conference a couple of years ago and she was a guest speaker.  You didn’t have to tell me where she was. My nose just followed the smell of butter permeating throughout the “Exhibitors Hall” and like the pied piper, we were all there.  Back then she looked like Paula, the original model, not like her current Food Network photo, shown above.  This one looks like she’s been pulled, injected and stuffed a box of Chicklets in her mouth.  This picture tells me that people around her are afraid to tell the empress she has no clothes!  This is a “danger” sign that signals “my ego has taken over”. 

We knew it would happen, it was simply a matter of time.  Eating like that increases your chances of speeding up a number of health issues, inclusive of diabetes.  Type 2 Diabetes is no laughing matter and many who have the disease haven’t been eating like Paula.  It’s a struggle and a lifetime of making choices.   So why did Paula make the choice to hide her condition for so long?  I get that you need time to digest a diagnosis like this one and it is a very personal reality.  But she could have made other choices and decisions that would not have harmed her reputation, disappointed her fans, maintained her “women of the people” image and stepped up to be a role model and spokesperson for Diabetes.  Heck, she could have changed courses at the Food Network and created a “Southern Cooking Bible for  Diabetics and People who don’t want Butter and Cream and Everything In-between” show. 

Instead, she chooses to hide things and come clean on the same day she announced her “deal” with Novo Nordisk, as a spokesperson for a $500 per month, Type 2 Diabetes drug, Victoza.  Really?  Who was advising her?  Her publicist of 6 years quit in December, apparently as a result of Paula’s choices and the predictable 24/7 reputation damage control that would ensue.  As a communication executive myself, I know what’s required to manage “reputation” of people or brands, and when you have too, you burn the midnight oil for a cause you believe in but for this…I would have quit too.This was both predictable and unfortunate.  Unfortunate for the diabetics whose plight has been challenged by her fear of being truthful, unfortunate for her fans who now feel duped and unfortunate for Paula who could have really made a difference in the lives of so many people, diabetic or otherwise.  Everyone benefits from a better diet.

Some say “get over it”, its an entertainment show, people make their choices.  I hear that but also believe that her form of entertainment could have greater purpose and still taste good.  Her decision does not reek of butter and whoopie pies, it reeks of money, ego and greed.


  1. Mickey Murray says:

    Hi Francine
    Bravo TO You for putting this to print. I too was a somewhat follower/fan of Paula Dean until last year when she came to Shea in Buffalo-my cousin Mary who lives in Buffalo got tickets for herself,my sister Nella and I-we all were anticipating a fun night out and I being the foodie of the group hoping to come away with a fun night out and a wee bit of inspiration(always looking for some of that) NOT!
    Francine, it was the most appalling demonstration of I don’t know what-no cooking,lots of burping,belching and senseless fare.
    That evening was enough for me to donate her one and only cookbook that I own and flip the channel whenever she comes on the food network .
    What has she done to herself and I can’t believe that they(the network) are allowing this!
    True-the network is not what it was and this is very disappointing to me as I spend a great deal of time in my kitchen. It is all about marketing themselves and their products and very little real cooking!
    Thanks for this!

  2. Ditto for me Francine!!!! This is a perfect example of losing what is good and marketable in the first place. I have never been very good a marketing myself, but I can recognize the loss of honesty and integrity, because of greed. Which is clearly how I see this. Yes, the bottom line is important to every business, but when you lose the purpose and direction and pure message of your brand, you’ve lost everything. My little imput today, N.xo

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