Paula Deen Cries "Tears of Joy" in First Public Appearance Since Scandal

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Paula Deen returned to the public spotlight for the first time since this summer's n-word scandal, and cried tears of joy after receiving a huge ovation.

The celebrity chef, 66, broke down in tears amid 10 minutes of thunderous applause at the Metro Cooking & Entertaining show in Houston Saturday.

Deen of Cookin'

"These are tears of joy, y'all," she said. "This is my first time out in three months. The one place I wanted to make my first step out was in Texas."

"You are forgiving folks with hearts as big as your state. We all experience pain in some way but pain is also a good thing because it makes you grow."

After her emotional outburst, Paula Deen quickly got back in touch with her sassy, culinary side joining sons Bobby and Jamie for a cooking demo.

It looks like she's clearly back in the swing of things.

Deen walked up to a cameraman at the end of her exhibition, put her face right up close to his camera and said with a giant smile, "I'm back!"

After the summer she had, that must feel good.

The controversy began when she and brother Bubba Hiers were sued for racial discrimination and sexual harassment by former restaurant manager Lisa Jackson.

When a transcript of a legal deposition, in which Deen admitted she had used the N-word in the past, was leaked in June, it swiftly ignited a firestorm.

Paula denied all of Jackson's claims and only admitted using racial slurs in past, unrelated circumstances, but her empire began to unravel fast.

The Food Network fired Paula and she lost many lucrative endorsement deals shortly thereafter, including Smithfield Hams, Target and Walmart.

Ballantine Books also canceled a five-book deal and stopped publication of her cookbook, despite the fact that the book had already hit No. 1 on Amazon.

Last month, the lawsuit was dismissed, but the damage was done.

A judge threw out the racial discrimination portion of the suit and soon after, Deen and Jackson reached a settlement to dismiss the remaining claims.

Now that she's back, do you forgive her? Did you ever jump off the Paula bandwagon? Should she go away and never come back? Discuss below!

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