Celebrity chef Paula Deen Wednesday announced a planned new flagship restaurant as she tries to re-establish herself following revelations last year of having used racially volatile language.
"I'm fighting to get my name back," Deen, 67, told People, adding, "I used to have dreams that I lost everything. And when it finally happens, you think, 'I'm still alive.' "
The former Food Network star compared herself to Michael Sam, the first openly gay NFL prospect, saying, "I feel 'embattled' or 'disgraced' will always follow my name. It's like that black football player who recently came out. He said, 'I just want to be known as a football player. I don't want to be known as a gay football player.' I know exactly what he's saying."
Deen, whose newly formed Paula Deen Ventures received a $75 million infusion from the investment firm Najafi Companies earlier this month, said her new restaurant will open in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., near the Dollywood theme park.