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Mix a heaping helping of butter with the will to succeed, a cup of Southern charm and some fried green tomatoes. Add a spoonful of sass, and you've got Food Network star Paula Deen's recipe for success!

Paula may be rolling in dough now, but her rise to fame wasn't easy. At age 23, Paula says her life was in the pits. She had two young children, a 16-year-old brother whom she felt responsible for and a rocky marriage. Paula had also just buried both of her parents. "There was a time when we lost everything," she says. "We had no car. We had no home."

When times were tough, Paula found comfort in the kitchen. "I spent a lot of time bellied up to my stove," she says. "I had become a pretty good cook." At night, Paula says she would lie in bed and dream about how she could take care of her family financially.

With just $200, Paula started a catering business—The Bag Lady—out of her Savannah, Georgia, home. Her plan was simple: cook her Southern favorites. "I would make these wonderful little meals," she says. "They tasted good, but they looked like hell."

Jamie and Bobby, Paula's teenage sons, pitched in and delivered the meals to local businesses.
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FROM: Moms Who Made Millions
Published on February 02, 2007

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