Paula Deen’s New Investor Has “Deep Respect” for Former Food Network Star

The CEO of the Phoenix-based private equity firm is putting his money where his mouth is too.

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NBC, Peter Kramer / AP

celebrity chef Paula Deen appears on NBC News' "Today" show.

Paula Deen’s television comeback will be financed with a hefty investment  of $75 million to $100 million from Phoenix-based private equity firm Najafi Cos.

In statement released Wednesday, the firm’s CEO Jaham Najafi said he had “a deep respect for the hard work, unique content and quality products which Paula has built around her brand,” CNN Money reports. According to the Wall Street Journal, which broke the news of Deen’s comeback late Tuesday, Najafi is no stranger to investing in businesses that are “out of popular favor.”

The southern food doyenne went off the air last summer after taking heat for admitting under oath during a racial discrimination lawsuit (which was ultimately thrown out of court) that she had used a racial slur in reference to a black man in the past. Deen’s sponsors fled, and The Food Network, which hosted her television show, let her contract expire.

The cash infusion will allow Deen to move away from a business model in which she licenses her likeness and brand to others. Instead, she’ll take more of an ownership role in partnerships with retailers. The CEO of Paula Deen Ventures told the Journal  that Deen’s company is in talks with TV networks and others, though a Food Network representative said the channel had not had not spoken with Deen about returning to the network.

5 comments
LiliaFSnider
LiliaFSnider

Paula Deen did nothing wrong, I think who ever isn't for Paula Deen is jealous of her,and not half the woman she is, I think u need to get an life, and she deserves to be back on tv, I had stop watching food network causes they did Paula Deen wrong, the N word wasn't an disgrace to say anyways, it's no different than being call white trash, the point is this, get an life, and move on, can we do that,

jlunsmann
jlunsmann

That is great news... We miss you.... Do like Glen Beck.... Get your own TV F the Food Network.... 

sschwarberg32
sschwarberg32

Paula Deen does not deserve to be in the food business.  Anyone that uses a racial slur like she did and it is in public should never deal with the public.  Doesn't matter whether she is prejudiced or not, she still said it and once you say something like that it is out there and cannot be taken back.  You can apologize out the ying yang, but it does not matter.  I think the reason that she wants to get back into television is because she and Michael need the money to pay for their expensive houses.  PAULA DEEN YOU SHOULD WATCH YOUR MOUTH.

Parnassus70
Parnassus70

Don't give the Food Network the privilege of having you back Paula! They do not deserve to have you! Find another network like Oprah!

char47
char47

@sschwarberg32 I guess you must be perfect. Never said or did anything that ever offended anyone. Paula Deen is from the south, Georgia, and in the culture that she grew up in it was not a racial slur to use the "n" word. She was accused of saying the "n" word thirty years ago and charges were brought against her by a white woman, the case was thrown out of court. Every culture has it's own values, morals and acceptable language and behavior. Times have changed but back in the day it was a part of everyday language to use that word. Today we are more conscious of other cultures and more sensitive to what is considered acceptable language and behavior. We all make mistakes and should be given a second chance because none of us are perfect.