On Sunday, September 25, 2011, Paula Deen, the “butter queen” charmed 450 luncheon patrons at Horseshoe Casino in Southern Indiana to benefit Stan Curtis’ Blessings in a Backpack organization.
Chef Dean Corbett, owner of Equus and Corbett’s, was the master of ceremonies.
Chef Matthew of Mozz restaurant on East Market Street assisted Paula in a cooking demonstration on stage.
Guests had their pictures taken in front of a display of Paula’s cookbooks, awards and colorful scenes of her life and family.
We all posed beside a life-sized poster of Paula in a beautiful coral and white outfit inscribed with a big “Thank You.”
The casino’s main ballroom was beautiful with white tablecloths covered with red crisscrossed satin sashes and fresh flowers with a red and white theme.
Paula talked about her sons, Jamie and Bobby, as well as her husband, Michael. She apologized that Michael could not be present because he was working as a river boat captain. He told her he was sure the women would be crying because he couldn’t make it. Paula asked everyone to start crying so she could go home and tell him they did.
“Boo hoo,” we all cried, shedding crocodile tears.
Dean Corbett took questions from the audience. One woman from Paula’s hometown of Albany, Ga., told her how much Paula meant to her when she was battling cancer.
A special needs child, Morgan Dorsey, and her mother, Kim, came from Bullitt County. The child cheered while sitting in her wheelchair.
Paula left the stage, came to her table, kissed her, posed for a picture and then removed her rhinestone bracelet from her wrist and put it on Morgan’s wrist for her to keep.
There wasn’t a dry eye in the room.
Dean Corbett then brought the mic to me and said, “This is Lucie Blodgett. There is so much to say about her. Let me just say, she is a legend.”
I addressed Paula and said, “I love your Southern accent, as I am from Jackson, Miss. I just read your recipe for black-eyed peas in your cookbook.
“Do you throw a dime or quarter in the pot when you cook black-eyed peas for New Year’s Day for good luck?”
Paula paused, gave thought, and said, “No, I’ve never heard of that custom. I never said that in my cookbook, but from now on, for New Year’s, I will.”
She then complimented me on my “lavender suit, pink scarf and lovely silver hair.”
I also told her that her collard greens recipe was brilliant.
“When I cook collards for New Year’s, I ruin everything by boiling the greens, bacon, garlic cloves and onion all at once,” I said. “The bacon is half raw and the greens are limp and wilted.
“You roll the collard greens in a tobacco-like roll, cut crosswise into thin slices and cook them quickly.”
Seated at our table was Nikki Kinselton the weekly morning newscaster from Jacksonville, Fla. Her mother worked for years with Stan Curtis to develop a local Blessings in a Backpack program.
Her mother is leaving her estate to benefit Blessings in a Backpack.
Also, at our table was Dr. Bruce Hibbard and his lovely wife, Rhonda. He has established a motto for the Floyd County School system that “No Child Will Go Hungry” and has worked with Blessings in a Backpack to see that goal is reached.
A magnificent check was presented to Stan, Paula, Dr. Hibbard and all those who have given so unselfishly to this wonderful organization. It costs $80 to feed one child for an entire school year. Each child takes a backpack home with them every Friday with enough food for the weekend until they can return to school and have breakfast and lunch provided.
Research has shown that since the inception of the program, school performance has increased especially on Mondays. Hilary Duff is the national spokesperson and has worked closely with Curtis to make this difference in the lives of so many children.
Curtis also established the Kentucky Harvest Program.
Paula was vibrant and sexy in her hot pink sweater set, white pants and black flip flops.
Her shining hair, darling smile, and flirty repartee with male guests was a riot.
She pulled out a wispy hair extension and boldly “glued” it on a male diner’s semi-bald head creating a Betty Boop cowlick!
“Bald men are sexy” she said in that outrageously teasing voice.
photos by LUCIE BLODGETT | contributing photographer
Category: The Social Side
About the Author (Author Profile)
Always out and about at happenings around town, Lucie Blodgett has been writing a weekly column for The Voice-Tribune for more than two decades.