Paula Deen, the disgraced celebrity chef whose Southern food empire crumbled after she admitted in 2013 to using racial slurs in the past, is attempting a comeback. Hachette Book Group on Monday announced a sales and distribution deal with the former television star's Paula Deen Ventures.
Under the deal, Hachette will sell and distribute Deen's books, both new books and reissues, in print and electronic versions. According to a press release from the publisher, "The 2015 [Paula Deen Ventures] list will include an emphasis on healthier recipes, including September's title 'Paula Deen Cuts the Fat'" as well as some of her previous books.
Deen is famous for her rich, butter- and sugar-intensive recipes, which many critics contended are aggressively unhealthful. In 2012, she revealed that she has Type 2 diabetes.
But she's most notorious for the controversy that erupted in 2013, when she was sued by a former employee who claimed that Deen made racist remarks in her presence. The lawsuit was dismissed, but Deen admitted to having used the "N-word" in her past, a revelation that cost her deals with the Food Network, Wal-Mart and Target. Random House imprint Ballantine Books also declined to publish a planned book by the chef.
The book deal appears to be the latest step in Deen's bid to return to the public eye. She recently announced she'll be hosting a cooking podcast starting in May.
Hachette seems to be betting that readers will be willing to overlook Deen's past. In the press release, Todd McGarity, the publisher's vice president of client distribution services, said: "We are thrilled to be working with Paula Deen, whose trademark warmth and culinary flair are as appealing as ever. Her large, dedicated fan base is eager for more from her, and we are looking forward to continuing to build on her impressive sales."