Ex-Food Network star Paula Deen took a step toward career rehabilitation today with her first live public appearance since her June mea culpa media blitz. Despite the N-word scandal that axed her TV reign and ended multiple endorsement deals for Deen, 1,500 attendees were on hand at Saturday’s $95-per-ticket Metropolitan Cooking & Entertaining Show in Houston where she and sons Bobby and Jamie Deen put on a pair of cooking demos. The Southern cooking maven reportedly earned a standing ovation. “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,” Deen said per The Houston Chronicle. The Deen showcase kicked off the first day of the annual cooking confab, where Deen and son Bobby are also slated to appear tomorrow. Last month Deen made a pre-taped cameo on Fox’s MasterChef.

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