Paula Deen has kept to herself since the racism scandal that lost her a string of endorsements and her hosting job at the Food Network. But in her first public appearance since late June, the 66-year-old received a standing ovation at the Metropolitan Cooking and Entertainment Show in Houston on Saturday.
"These are tears of joy, y'all," Deen said, visibly moved by the supportive crowd. "I've said all along that the one place I'd want to make my first step back out is Texas. Y'all's hearts are as big as your state."
"I'm sure you know, unless you're living under a rock, the last few months have been difficult," she added. "It was an opportunity to learn. I learned a lot about my self and my business. I just want to thank y'all from bottom of my heart."
Deen's career hit rock bottom a few months ago after the popular Southern foodie admitted to using racial slurs in a deposition for a discrimination and harassment lawsuit filed by a former employee. The employee settled with Deen after a judge ruled that she had no right to sue for racial discrimination because she was white.
Deen also admitted to planning a party in which black waiters would have been dressed as slaves.
Despite the controversy, Deen still have plenty of fans who paid up to $400 to attend the cooking demonstration.
"I'm hoping she comes back. I'm hoping she gets another TV show, more books," one supporter told CNN on Saturday.