Gourmet's 50 Women Game Changers in Food: #24, Paula Deen

It's hard to believe someone as successful as Paula Deen suffered from panic attacks and agoraphobia when she was younger. She's certainly one of the most gregarious personalities on TV.

Paula's story is a true American success story. She started out with nothing. After moving to Savannah, her divorce from her first husband in 1989 left her with only $200 and her two teenage sons. But Paula was known as an excellent southern cook and soon began a catering business (called The Bag Lady), with her two sons doing the delivering as she was still afraid of public places.

Her business quickly outgrew her house so Paula took a job at a Best Western Hotel in Savannah to cook. Working there helped her overcome her agoraphobia and within 5 years, she opened a restaurant, Lady and Sons, with her two sons, which is still going strong. (She's also since opened a restaurant at a casino in Mississippi.)

Paula self-published her first cookbook in 1997 which was noticed by a literary agent and she has now published many more, all highly successful. Amazon has pages of them to choose from.

Deen's reputation grew and she was signed on the Food Network for a show in 1999, which parlayed into three shows, now taped in her home in Savannah. Her sons appear frequently on her shows and have had a show of their own. Paula appeared on Oprah and told her story which was an inspiration for many. She has also appeared in several movies and won an Emmy for Paula's Home Cooking. 

Cookbooks, magazines, restaurants, TV shows....you can't get more successful than that! She did good.

Now this recipe is definitely NOT a celebration of the coming holidays, but if I'm going to represent this game changer typically, here's what I say: Southern + Fried = Paula Deen. Save the recipe for next summer!

Fried Green Tomatoes

Recipe from Paula Deen


Vegetable oil, for frying 
1 tablespoon bacon renderings, for frying 
1 large green tomato, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices 
1 cup buttermilk 
1/4 cup self-rising cornmeal 
1 cup all-purpose flour 
2 teaspoons Paula Deen House Seasoning (salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder)


Slice the tomatoes 1/4-inch thick. Lay them out on some paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Allow time for salt to pull the water out of the tomatoes, approximately 30 minutes. 

In a medium nonstick skillet, pour the oil to a depth of 1/4-inch, add the bacon renderings and melt over medium heat. 

In a small bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour and House Seasoning. Dip both sides of each tomato slice in the flour mixture. Add the tomatoes to the hot oil and cook until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes per side. 

Join Mary from One Perfect Bite and all the other participants in this fun series.

Val - More Than Burnt Toast
Joanne - Eats Well With Others
Taryn - Have Kitchen Will Feed
Susan - The Spice Garden
Claudia - A Seasonal Cook in Turkey
Heather - girlichef
Miranda - Mangoes and Chutney
Jeanette - Healthy Living
April - Abby Sweets 
Katie - Making Michael Pollan Proud
Mary - One Perfect Bite
Viola - The Life is Good Kitchen
Sue - The View from Great Island
Kathleen Van Bruinisse - Bake Away with Me 
Kathleen - Gonna Want Seconds
Martha - Lines from Linderhof
Amy - Beloved Green

 Ciao Chow Linda
Nancy - Picadillo
Mireya - My Healthy Eating Habits
Veronica - My Catholic Kitchen
Annie - Lovely Things

Last chance to check out my Christmas apron giveaway HERE. I'll be drawing the 4 winners on the 20th. 


  1. I think when it comes to Paula Deen, you definitely chose the right recipe. And, your green tomatoes look just right for frying up. The green tomatoes with just a hint of pink blush on them always make the best fried green tomatoes. Gorgeous!

  2. I love Paula Deen. She's so cute.

  3. What a great choice for the queen of southern cooking! Fried green tomatoes are yummy!

  4. I would agree that fried green tomatoes are an excellent choice for our Southern game changer.

  5. I would try these before summer if I can find some green tomatoes. I'm surprised Paula kept it to just 1 Tbsp bacon fat!!!

  6. I am happy for her success..the kind of stories..that just make you believe anything is possible.

  7. Definitely a choice representative of Paula...and I love Fried Green Tomatoes, so now I'm wishing I could get my hands on a plate full!

  8. They look really mouthwatering! That is a speciality I haven't tried yet. Next year, maybe...



  9. Ooo...what a lovely & simple recipe this is. Sounds good for the coming thanksgiving too. Hope you're having terrific time.
    Happy thanksgiving to you & your family. Enjoy & have loads of fun.
    Blessings, KRisty

  10. I love fried green tomatoes!Have a nice weekend,Barbara!

  11. I've always wanted to try fried green tomatoes, but unless you grow your own (and I've tried without success), you can't get them here.
    *kisses* HH

  12. Love PD and fried green tomatoes, but I NEVER make them at home. Ever. I'd founder on them.

    Now, if I could have grey hair like that beautiful silver, I'd re-think my need to go blonde!

  13. I've only had fried green tomatoes once but they were good! You've gotta love Paula for her cooking enthusiasm.

  14. These look wonderful and they'll be tried here well before next summer. We can still get green tomatoes in our stores. I love that you bucked the trend and did something non-seasonal. It's what makes this adventure so much fun. I hope you are enjoying the company of the group as much as they are enjoying yours. Have a wonderful weekend. Blessings...Mary

  15. What a great recipe to showcase Paula! You can't get much more Southern then Fried Green Tomatoes. They do look yummy! Nice post!

  16. Love the movie, but I've never tried actually making Fried Green Tomatoes before. Great choice!

  17. Oh I can just imagine how crunchy and yummy they tssted. Trust me, if I could add these to my Thanksving table I would. I pulled my tomato plants out about a month ago. Thanks for sharing.

  18. really strange lady to me !!pierre

  19. I love fried green tomatoes and leave it to Paula to have a great recipe for them!

  20. It is really hard to believe that she had panic attacks and agrophobia! As you say she's a natural on tv and so very entertaining too! :)

  21. I love paula's recipes and fried tomatoes. So this is a must make!

  22. Love Savannah and Paula Deen, we had lunch at the Lady & Sons a few years back, what an experience.
    The fried green tomatoes were historic, (although I preferred the ones at The Pink House!)

  23. I've always wanted to make fried green tomatoes they seem to be so typically southern and obviously delicious. But you can't buy them in the UK. Perhaps I'll have to beg some from an allotment friend. GG

  24. i just love paula deen. i think she's hilarious and delightful to watch. these look wonderful, i've never had fried green tomatoes, but i've always wanted to!

  25. I love Paula, so many memorable outrageous moments watching her on television.

  26. Hubs loves fried green tomatoes- I'll save the recipe for next summer. :)

  27. she may be a little annoying and a whola lotta crazy, but she's earned her fame!

  28. Paula Deen's style of cooking is often heavier than I can handle--but I really respect her tenacity--her rags to riches story. Inspirational!

    I also appreciate this "game-changers" series---in Chefdom, it is still a much male-dominated profession---these women deserve much attention for their considerable contributions.

  29. I loved reading about Paula Deen...I think we don't know her in this part of the world....now in the recipe, I don't know what is "bacon rendering" and "self rising cornmeal" How can we replace that?



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