Paula Deen's Cook Talks, and It's Not Flattering
Dora Charles says Deen wanted black worker to dress like Aunt Jemima
By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
Posted Jul 25, 2013 9:31 AM CDT
Updated Jul 25, 2013 10:52 AM CDT
In this Dec. 30, 2010 photo, Paula Deen speaks in Pasadena, Calif.   (AP Photo/Nick Ut)

(Newser) – Paula Deen called Dora Charles, the cook who helped Deen open the restaurant that eventually helped her become famous, her "soul sister" and promised her that "if I get rich, you'll get rich," Charles tells New York Times—from what the paper describes as her "aging trailer home." Now, Charles wants the world to know that "Paula Deen don't treat me the way they think she treat me." Charles, who is black, says she was still making less than $10 per hour at Savannah's Lady & Sons after Deen became a Food Network star; after a white co-worker told her in 2010 that others were making more, she filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

But she hasn't "press[ed] matters in court," as the Times puts it, and still works at the restaurant, where her pay has since been upped to a $71,000 salary (Deen's son says the bump had nothing to do with the complaint). But Charles recalls Deen using racial slurs and asking a worker to dress like Aunt Jemima while making hoecakes. Deen's team denies any mistreatment, and says Charles just wants money even after "over 20 years of generosity" from Deen. And there were certainly perks to Charles' job, including appearances on Deen's show and free clothes and other items. For her part, Charles says she expects no money from Deen, she just wants "to put my story out there that she didn’t treat me fairly."

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Showing 3 of 87 comments
Jul 27, 2013 3:26 PM CDT
I am a believer that Paula had always taken recipes/other ideas from black people in Georgia-My mother baked pound cakes in Georgia-a white grocer stole that recipe b/c she cooked for him -he was a grocer,had sons and his cakes are sold today! I wonder if Savannah is a racist city!
Jul 27, 2013 11:17 AM CDT
Something about this doesn't sound right. Nobody in the restaurant service industry gets paid $70,000 a year because their boss is a jerk. As for all the people who want to see Paul Deen go down in flames- get real. Everyone has said things in the past that they would cringe to hear repeated today. If it was the stock guy at the local Family Dollar, no one would give a rat's ass about some irresponsible remark he made in the past. But if it's a celebrity- let the dog pile begin. I'm not a big Paul Deen fan, but I'm not going to be throwing the first stone, either.
Jul 26, 2013 10:50 PM CDT
Don't worry. This fat old muppet face will be broke and homeless soon enough...