Why Paula Deen Doesn't Consider Herself A Chef

Just because someone's famous for cooking doesn't necessarily mean they're a chef. At least, that's how world-renowned Southern food celebrity Paula Deen feels. She talks about why and expands on her background in an exclusive interview with Mashed.

Deen discusses her time as a judge on "MasterChef," noting some of her reluctance to criticize home cooks on the show is because she essentially considers herself one of them. She notes she's never received any formal training, having learned her cooking skills in her "grandmother Paula's kitchen."

There's no doubt Deen has had a unique path to celebrity status in the food world. She started making lunches for office workers out of her home kitchen in the late 1980s before taking over a small hotel restaurant in Savannah, Georgia. She opened her own eatery, The Lady and Sons, a few years later. Soon after, the restaurant's popularity led to a cookbook and national media opportunities.

Paula Deen is not the only famous non-chef

Paula Deen repeatedly calls herself a "cook" during the interview, which also touches on her quarantine cooking videos, shot in her home kitchen. She talks about how rewarding she found helping people make the most of their ingredients during the height of the pandemic and says she planned to keep up the home-focused videos, even though the days of quarantining are long over.

In addition, the interview explores her relationship with fellow "MasterChef" judge Gordon Ramsay, known for his gruff demeanor in the kitchen. However, Deen calls him "very kind" and "a sweet man." It makes sense that the two would get along, as Ramsay is also one of the celebrity "chefs" who aren't chefs at all, learning his craft on the job. Other well-known food figures without formal training include Ina Garten, Rachael Ray, and Guy Fieri. Even the iconic Martha Stewart is self-taught!

Keep this in mind if you're ever feeling overmatched in the kitchen: If Paula Deen and these other big names don't need chef training to make a significant impact on the food world, neither does anyone else.