Paula Deen may be headed for a comeback.
Not only were all the charges against the embattled celebrity chef in her racial discrimination lawsuit dismissed today, but fellow culinary stars think she can redeem herself and more.
"She's a pretty tough woman," Giada De Laurentiis told me at last night's opening of the Los Angeles Food & Wine Festival. "Don't count her out just yet."
Michael Chiarello, host of several cooking shows including Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello on the Food Network, agrees.
"Absolutely," he said when asked if Deen was destined for a return, adding, "Sometimes, when something happens to a jerk, you go, ‘Well he's a jerk' or ‘She's a jerk. She kind of had it coming.' She didn't have this coming. She's a sweetheart of a person."
No matter what you think, most would probably agree that Deen makes for good television. "Who can forget the first time they saw her," Waylynn Lucas, owner of Fonuts in L.A. and a star of Bravo's new Eat Drink Love.
"It's her voice," she said. "It's that deep, Southern twang-y voice in her jokes that just ring in your ears forever and ever."
Deen's empire crumbled when it was revealed that she admitted in a deposition that she had used the N-word and once planned a "plantation-style" wedding. Companies like The Food Network, Walgreens, Wal-Mart and J.C. Penney quickly ended their contracts with her.
Top Chef breakout star Fabio Viviano is also a Deen cheerleader.
"She should have a comeback," he said. "Without getting into what she did or what she didn't [do], that's her deal. I understand that it is completely wrong. With that said, America is the land of second chances."
Do you agree? Should Paula be given a second chance? Sound off below.