Paula Deen Rides Food Network's Robert Irvine Like a Horse: "I'm Back in the Saddle" After N-Word Scandal

Chef apologizes to fans again before announcing comeback at South Beach Wine and Food Festival

By Rebecca Macatee Feb 24, 2014 2:09 PMTags
Paula Deen, Robert IrvineFrazer Harrison/Getty Images for Food Network SoBe Wine & Food Festival

Paula Deen is ready for her comeback, y'all!

On Sunday at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival in Miami, the former Food Network star declared, while riding chef Robert Irvine like a horse, that she was "back in the saddle" following last summer's N-word scandal.

However, Deen made sure to cover the serious stuff first. "We have come off of a very hard summer my family and I, my team, my partners," the 67-year-old chef said, per Fox News. "But you know, I have heard on more than one occasion...that I've never apologized. So if anybody did not hear me apologize, I would like to apologize to those who did not hear me."

Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images

Her apology hasn't fallen on deaf ears, either. Earlier this month, her new company, Paula Deen Ventures, received an investment between $75 million and $100 million from Najafi Cos. Her dedicated fan base has largely forgiven her and supported her, too. "Y'all's cards and letters that I got helped me get out of bed every day," she said, adding, "I am not a quitter."

She was then joined onstage by Irvine, who had his own scandal in 2008 over discrepancies in his work history before returning to his Food Network job seemingly unscathed. "This is a warning to you," he advised. "You've apologized. You've eaten crow. You're done. Don't do it anymore. I've been there."

It was then, that, perhaps to lighten the mood, Deen and Irvine repeated the riding bit they first performed in 2011. Deen, straddling Irvine, told the cheering crowd, "I'm back in the saddle!"

Giddy up.