Paula Deen's Husband: Who Is Michael Groover?

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Paula Deen is one of the most famous television chefs in history. Her name is basically synonymous with butter (seriously, she even came out with her own line of butter in 2013) and with good ol' homestyle Southern cooking. We know all about her dishes and her TV shows and even the scandal that pushed her out of the public eye for a while, but there is one thing only her truest fans know about: her husband, Michael Groover.

Deen married her first husband, Jimmy Deen (that's "Deen" with two "e"s, not to be confused with Jimmy Dean, the famous singer and sausage entrepreneur), when she was just 18 years old. Despite them being married for 24 years and having two children together, their marriage wasn't a happy one, and it ended in divorce in 1989. Deen spent the next 15 years being single and down on love, until a chance encounter led her to the real man of her dreams.

Deen and Groover married in 2004 and have spent the past two decades taking on life's ups and downs together, one pat of butter at a time.

Michael Groover was once a tugboat captain

At first glance, you might guess that Michael Groover is a teacher, or a fellow chef, or maybe even a famous historical writer (more on that later). It is hard to tell just by looking at him that his career took him out on the water, maneuvering boats and barges into and out of harbors, ports, and spaces they couldn't reach otherwise. 

Before he retired, Groover worked as a tugboat captain in Savannah, Georgia, making him and Paula Deen a bit of an oddity as a couple. She works in the public eye and loves attention, while he had a profession that requires solitude, quiet, and communicating with others only through a radio. Perhaps it is this "opposites attract" quality that makes their relationship so strong ... or maybe it's the fact that they're both very outspoken and always say what's on their minds. For example, the first time he got a look at Deen's legs, Groover reportedly said, "Whoa!" (To which we hope she replied, "Hello, sailor!")

In spite of the different paths they were on in life, Groover's profession brought the two together in a pretty adorable way. After their first meeting, Groover invited Deen out for a ride on his new boat, and the rest was history.

Fate (and Paula Deen's dogs) brought them together

Paula Deen wasn't looking for love when she met Michael Groover — she was looking for her dogs. Ironically, Groover and his brother had hired a lawyer to try to prevent developers from building the condos where Deen lived. As a compromise, the developers added an 8-foot wall between the properties. However, that wall was no match for Deen's dogs when they got loose. Just like that famous scene in Disney's "101 Dalmatians," the dogs seemed to be working for kismet as they led Deen to Groover's house.

The first thing he noticed were her sparkling blue eyes and infectious enthusiasm. Groover knew he couldn't let her get away. Unfortunately, get away she did — at least at first. Lucky for Groover, her dogs came back about two weeks later, and so did Deen. The two got to talking, and Deen left with her dogs and a date with Groover for the next day. They went out on her new boat together, and they made a true connection, something Deen hadn't been looking for but was more than happy to accept into her life. 

Many, many more dates followed, and the two got married just a few years later at Bethesda Academy in Savannah. They celebrated in true Southern style with dishes like crab-stuffed shrimp, fried collard greens, and pickled okra sandwiches, some of which we're sure the dogs got to sample as a thank you for their matchmaking work.

Paula Deen's husband is a younger man

It may shock some fans to know that our beloved, wholesome, young-at-heart Paula Deen is a cougar. Looking at photos of Deen and her husband, Michael Groover, you would probably guess that they are the same age, or even that Deen is a bit younger. In actuality, though, Groover was born in 1956, making him nine years younger than Deen, who was born in 1947. 

The age difference seems to have never bothered the pair, but it may be surprising to some, as historically the man has been the older one in many Southern relationships. In today's modern age, though, women can date whomever they wish, and at the end of the day, age is nothing but a number. It doesn't affect the couple in the slightest, and in fact, Groover might even be more suitable to Deen because of this age difference, as she has always seemed young and lively no matter what her age. 

In his memoir, Groover said that he has a soft spot for women over 40. He quoted a poet friend as saying, "They don't swell, they don't tell, and they're grateful as h***." Plus, they "seemed to like me more" (via Today). The two have been enjoying each other's company for more than 20 years now and don't look to be changing their minds anytime soon.

Paula Deen's husband lost more than 60 pounds in a year

In 2012, Paula Deen was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. This prompted her to make some huge, important lifestyle changes that included cutting down on carbs, adding more vegetables to her diet, and just generally slimming down.

After her diagnosis, Deen's family rallied around her and decided to not just support her in her weight-loss goals but also to join her. Her sons, Jamie and Bobby, lost 45 and 33 pounds respectively, and Deen herself lost 40 pounds. The biggest winner (or, technically, loser) in the family, however, was Michael Groover, who lost an incredible 60 pounds in one year. That makes for 178 pounds lost as a family. The key, Deen told People magazine, was not giving up that delicious Southern cooking, but instead "moderation, moderation, moderation." 

The plan to get healthy not only bonded them as a family, but also ensured that they will have much more time to spend together sharing meals, laughter, and love.

Paula Deen's husband won an Ernest Hemingway lookalike contest

While his relationship with Paula Deen is fun to read about, something that Michael Groover did in his own right is even more interesting. On July 21, 2018, Groover won the world-famous Hemingway Look-Alike Contest in Key West, Florida. It was the ninth try for Groover, who traveled each year to Sloppy Joe's Bar, the place where Ernest Hemingway used to hang out with his fellow writers and other friends. There, he competed with other men who could be his twins.

Groover finally took home the medal and the celebratory Hemingway bust on what would have been the author's 119th birthday, beating out 150 other contestants from all over the world. As expected, Deen was there to cheer him on, even going so far as to hold up a paper cut-out of his face on a stick.

Groover has said that he can relate to Hemingway through their mutual love of hunting and fishing as well as writing. 

Paula Deen's husband doesn't hold back when it comes to her cooking

One of the best things about the relationship between Paula Deen and her husband, Michael Groover, is that both feel that they can be completely honest with each other ... even if once Deen felt like her husband was a bit too honest. 

"Listen, he hurt my feelings so bad," Deen told Good Housekeeping in a 2008 interview. After Groover told her that his mom made the best pear crisp in the world, Deen said, "Well, I can do that." She prepared the crisp, giving it everything she had, but Groover was unimpressed. "Now, you cannot ask Michael a question if you don't want the truth," she said. "The man doesn't have a lie in him. And so he said, 'Well, it's just not nearly as good as my mama's.'" Deen, of course, was a little crushed, but it didn't phase her. She continued to try to make the perfect pear crisp, but you just can't beat a Southern mama's cooking. In her own words, "I've tried it many times since, that darn pear crisp, and I still can't get that sucker right!" 

For someone with a huge fan base constantly gushing about how incredible her food is, maybe it is a good thing that Deen has someone who can critique her food and keep her humble, even if she probably doesn't always see it that way!

Paula Deen's husband is a great stepdad

One of the biggest challenges of marrying someone who has been married before is finding a way to blend your families together. No matter how old your spouse's children are, it may be tough to make them like you. Lucky for Paula Deen's husband, Michael Groover, though, he doesn't have this problem. In fact, Deen's two adult sons adore him and are happy to have him in their lives.

In 2017, they shared a happy birthday post that touched even the hardest of hearts. "Happy birthday, Michael Groover!" they posted on their official Deen Brothers page. "We're glad to have you as a part of our family because you always make Mom so happy." 

While the love and acceptance of his stepsons is most likely all Groover wanted, he got a bonus affirmation that he is loved by the 4,900 fans who liked the post and the over 500 people who commented, saying how happy they are to have Groover in their lives too.

Paula Deen's husband wrote a book about his life with her

Five years into a marriage, a lot of people stop for a second and assess how things are going. How is life now compared to how it was before you married your spouse? How could things be better? What are your favorite parts of your life together? How is the future looking?

Paula Deen's husband, Michael Groover, had all of these same thoughts and was pressed by fans of the couple to tell them all about his life as "Mr. Paula Deen." Groover complied by writing a memoir titled "My Delicious Life with Paula Deen," chock full of details about his life with the famous chef. It also includes stories about his life before he met her, his adventures as a tugboat captain, and what it was like to be a single dad raising his children in the American South where he, too, grew up.  

The book is written like Groover speaks, in a slow, Southern drawl (take the first line of the prologue, for example: "Miss Paula Deen came into my life bringin' blue eyes, beamin' smiles, balance, and butter — no end of the butter.") and gives the reader a true feel for who Groover is as a person and what it's like to live with the queen of Southern cooking.

Paula Deen's husband had his own line of coffee

Like all good spouses of celebrities, Paula Deen's husband, Michael Groover, isn't content to just sit idly by in Deen's shadow or be the wind beneath her wings. While he, of course, loves and supports her like crazy, he also has his own life and entrepreneurial ideas, one of which was his own line of coffee.  

Unveiled for the first time in 2007, Captain Michael's coffee offered eight different flavors of coffee beans that included Captain's Choice, First Mate's Blend, The Lady's Double Chocolate Cream, River Street Blues, Savannah Seduction, and, as one would expect, a nod to his favorite famous chef, Paula's Hazelnut Rum Cake.

Beans for Captain Michael's coffee were grown in Valle del Cauca, Colombia, and were processed and prepared in collaboration with a company close to Groover's heart, Savannah Coffee Roasters. From what we can tell, Captain Michael's coffee is no longer producing those delicious roasts, but maybe in the future it will make a comeback, as people's love for coffee is just as enduring as Groover's love for Deen.  

Paula Deen's husband is giving her some competition in the kitchen

Marrying a great chef like Paula Deen is like a dream come true. She would spoil you with her delectable dishes and baked goods, cooking up gourmet breakfasts, lunches, and dinners every day, and you would never have to lift a finger in the kitchen again except to wash the dishes, right? This is not the case for Michael Groover (well, at least not all the time).

Even though Deen's cooking gets all the fame and accolades from the public, Groover is actually a pretty good cook in his own right. In fact, he has even guest-starred on Deen's TV show, Paula's Best Dishes, where he prepared a big seafood feast in recognition of his job as a tugboat captain. He also shares a few of his favorite sea-themed recipes in his book, My Delicious Life with Paula Deen, including Blue Water Banana Pudding and Captain's Deviled Crabs. He also appeared on four episodes of "Positively Paula" between 2016 and 2017. What could be more #couplesgoals than having two great chefs in the same kitchen?

Paula Deen's husband may or may not have had an affair

Couples in the public eye are more prone than anyone to have their dirty laundry aired in the street (and all over the internet). Paula Deen and Michael Groover are no exception, as they were the subject of some pretty intense rumors in 2013. According to Daily Mail, the National Enquirer reported that Groover was cheating on Deen with "a sexy middle-age brunette" who lived close to them and was a friend of the family. He supposedly met with her once every week for more than a year, sometimes hanging out at her home, sometimes going out for drinks together. 

The magazine went on to say that when Deen found out about this affair, she confronted Groover, and they had a huge fight. Groover was so offended that she would even entertain the notion that he would cheat on her that he "walked out." When he later came back, the two talked again, and he "swore his innocence and allegiance to Deen."

Multiple sources got a hold of this story and spread it around the internet and magazine stands, but in the end it may just be a load of hooey. According to a source who spoke with US Weekly, "This story is absolutely not true. They have never been closer. Michael adores her, and Paula adores him. They are completely fine." The world may never know what really happened with Groover and the brunette, but for now we just have to treat it as unsubstantiated gossip.

Those divorce rumors about Paula Deen and her husband aren't true

A few years after their marriage was rocked by the alleged cheating scandal, Paula Deen fueled divorce rumors even more. In 2015, she gifted the deed to the couple's shared house in Wilmington Island, Georgia, to Michael Groover. According to court documents (via Daily Mail), the transfer was "for and in consideration of her natural love and affection for her husband," but on April 8, 2016, she took it back. 

The house, which the couple had purchased in 2004 and later sold in 2023, was changed to be solely in Groover's name, but Deen said the transfer was a mistake and "delivered by error and [a] misunderstanding between her and her husband." She then canceled the deed transfer. When this news broke, everyone assumed that it was evidence of a divorce stemming from Groover's alleged cheating three years earlier. However, those rumors were later called into question, as the agreement was mutual, and Groover signed the papers willingly and happily. 

While it isn't clear exactly why the deed transfer was canceled (or why it happened in the first place), it was not the beginning of the end. Their relationship is clearly still going strong. On their anniversary in 2023, Deen celebrated on Instagram by saying, "I met Michael when I was 53, and he's kept a smile on my face every day since. It just goes to show it's never too late to find true love."

He claims his tuna salad is famous around the world

As a former tugboat captain, Michael Groover doesn't surprise us with his taste for seafood. While his wife is famous for all sorts of foods, the dish he excels at is tuna salad. Paula Deen has a recipe for Michael's World Famous Tuna Salad on her website and YouTube channel. It's ridiculously easy to make and includes a variety of crunchy and flavorful ingredients to elevate it above the ordinary.

Like many tuna salad recipes, it includes tuna, three chopped hard-boiled eggs, and two big dollops of mayonnaise. However, he uses jarred tuna fillets that come packed in olive oil. While jarred tuna might cost a little more, you get more intact fillets, and it tastes better. The one he used cost about $7 a jar, and he uses two for the recipe, so it's probably more than you usually pay for pre-cooked tuna. However, it's worth it for the quality improvement. Even though he buys it in large chunks, he still breaks it up into smaller pieces before turning it into a salad.

Another thing that makes Groover's tuna salad different than usual is the addition of half a jar of dill pickle relish (drained), half a diced raw onion, and plenty of finely diced celery. It also contains black pepper for seasoning. He serves it on pieces of romaine lettuce to turn it into a wrap, but you can also eat it alone or in a sandwich.