The cable channel dropped the controversial celebrity chef from its programming lineup Friday in the wake of a deposition that recently surfaced in which she is quoted expressing racist sentiments and using the “N” word.
Food Network issued a statement this afternoon: “Food Network will not renew Paula Deen’s contract when it expires at the end of this month.”
Firing also arrives on the heels of Deen canceling an appearance on “Today” this morning, one she’d scheduled in order to address controversy surrounding her use of racial slurs. After nixing the interview with Matt Lauer last minute, Deen then posted an edited video apology online, only to take the YouTube video down and post a second version of the apology shortly thereafter.
Deen has been a star attraction on the cable channel, which is owned by Scripps Networks Interactive, since 1999. She has starred in multiple cooking shows for the network, most recently “Paula’s Best Dishes,” since 2008.
Her primetime perch at Food Network enabled Deen to build a multimedia empire around herself that extended to restaurants, cookbooks and other merchandise.
Deen made headlines when the National Enquirer got its hands on a videotaped deposition she gave in connection with a lawsuit filed against her last month. The former manager of a pair of restaurants Deen co-owned with her brother in Savannah, Ga., alleged they had engaged in acts of violence, discrimination and racism. She reportedly suggested in the deposition that black staffers at her restaurant dress up as slaves for a wedding her company was catering.
The 66-year-old also starred into previous series on the Food Network, “Paula’s Home Cooking,” which began in 2002, and “Paula’s Party,” which began in 2006. Both series are still rebroadcast on the network.
Deen was no stranger to controversy prior to the deposition, having come under severe criticism for promoting recipes for fattening dishes.
But Deen’s goose was likely cooked yesterday when a hashtag featuring her show’s title began circulating on Twitter yesterday as a showcase for racist jokes. National brands are typically quick to disassociate from high-profile figures caught making bigoted remarks or taking intolerant actions.