The Paula Deen Express seems to be trucking straight into a deeper tunnel…
In new claims, Paula Deen has been accused of asking black kitchen workers to wear Aunt Jemima-style outfits while working in the same restaurant that made her a star.
Dora Charles, Deen’s longtime chef, claimed that African American staff were also asked to ring a bell while hollering ‘come and get it’ in a throwback to the past.
Charles also alleged that she was paid a measly $10 an hour and had to endure the TV chef using racist language around her.
Deen has already apologized for her use of the N-word…
Family, friends, and fans of Deen have been very vocal in their support of the Southern Cuisine Queen. But many (me included) are wondering how this new claim will effect her image.
Deen has been dropped by The Food Network along with corporate sponsors like Walmart, Home Depot, pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk and her book publisher.
Charles’ told the New York Times that she wanted to speak up now because she felt that the truth should come out about the woman who she once considered her ‘Soul Sister’.
For 22 years, Mrs. Charles was the queen of the Deen kitchens. She helped open the Lady & Sons, the restaurant here that made Ms. Deen’s career. She developed recipes, trained other cooks and made sure everything down to the collard greens tasted right.
“If it’s a Southern dish,” Ms. Deen once said, “you better not put it out unless it passes this woman’s tongue.”
Charles’ states, ‘It’s just time that everybody knows that Paula Deen don’t treat me the way they think she treat me’.
Charles met Deen while Deen was running a restaurant in a Best Western hotel when Charles, newly divorced and tired of fast-food kitchens, walked in and auditioned by cooking her version of Southern food. Deen hired her immediately.
Mrs. Charles attended Ms. Deen’s wedding. Sometimes Mrs. Charles appeared on the television shows as part of her day job. She also performed on Ms. Deen’s signature cruises, taking vacation time to do so, though her expenses were paid. She sometimes received clothes and other free goods that came along as Ms. Deen’s star rose.
Mrs. Charles’s family and friends even got jobs with Ms. Deen, including Ineata Jones, whom everyone called Jellyroll. She ended up as close to Ms. Deen as Mrs. Charles was.
Tension between the two ladies began when Deen asked Charles’ to prepare ‘hoecakes’ (my grandma made these…they are pancakes made from cornbread batter and served during dinner) and to ring a dinner bell in front of the restaurant, hollering for people to come and get it.
“I said, ‘I’m not ringing no bell,’ ” Mrs. Charles said. “That’s a symbol to me of what we used to do back in the day.”
Charles’ cousin Ineata ‘Jellyroll’ Jones took up the offer and her image as Aunt Jemima was sold on postcards in many of the Deen Souvenir Shops.
This story seemed to had fizzled out…
But now, here’s more gas…
She was asked to dress as Aunt Jemima?
I wonder how this will turn out…
Read more here in the New York Times.