Before she was a star chef, Paula Deen says she went through some tough times. Gayle talks to Paula, the Food Network's queen of Southern cuisine, about the ups and downs she encountered along the road to success, which she recounts in her book It Ain't All About the Cookin'.
Just 18 when she married, Paula says the death of her father one year later left her feeling insecure. She suffered from panic attacks and agoraphobia for many years. Then, the couple fell on hard times when her husband's car dealership tanked and they lost all their assets. Paula says throughout it all, cooking was her joy and comfort. "I don't care how little bit of money we had, I could get in that kitchen and cook my children canned corned beef and cabbage and mashed potatoes and ho-cake cornbread, honey!"
After 27 years of marriage, Paula and her husband divorced. As she looked for ways to support her two sons, Paula started a catering business called The Bag Lady. On her first day of business, she says she made 50 tuna sandwiches on white bread and they sold out. Little by little, Paula's business grew and she opened a restaurant in Savannah, Georgia, called The Lady and Sons.
Paula says she had found success, but wanted someone to share it with. As luck would have it, her prayers were answered when she met and married her second husband, Michael. "There is nothing like older love," she says. Paula says Michael, who is nine years younger than she is, is the love of her life and makes her feel like a teenager again. "Something to make you that excited again and to want to shave your legs and your armpits—for goodness sakes!"