With her strong southern drawl and robust personality, Paula Deen has emerged as a standout female celebrity chef in an industry largely dominated by men. But she had to earn her success.
Dean started a catering company making boxed lunches for local businesses, aptly named The Bag Lady, and sent her sons to make the deliveries. This eventually led to opening The Lady and Sons restaurant in Savannah, Ga., in 1996. Subsequently, Deen was featured on an episode of Oprah about women who started businesses in their homes, but it wasn't until QVC sold 70,000 copies of her cookbook in one day that she catapulted into the mainstream. Her popular Food Network cooking show, "Paula's Home Cooking," furthered her celebrity status, particularly because she shares a story from her fascinating life about each of her dishes. In addition to her cooking shows and restaurants, Deen's empire also consists of a magazine and a line of baking mixes. In 2005, she made her acting debut in Cameron Crowe's "Elizabethtown."