Published 11:56 PM EDT Sep 24, 2019
Paula Deen has cooked up controversy yet again.
The cooking show host, 72, is facing backlash after making a tasteless joke about the sudden death of Food Network star Carl Ruiz during an interview on “The Big J Show.”
During the radio show Monday, Deen was asked if she knew Ruiz, an executive chef at La Cubana in New York, who appeared on Food Network’s “Guy’s Grocery Games” and “Guy’s Ranch Kitchen.” He died on Saturday at age 44.
“No, I’m not” familiar with Ruiz, Deen said. “But I’m so sorry to hear that.”
With a laugh, Deen continued, “You know, they say the restaurant business will kill ya.” She then added, “No pun intended” and that the food industry is a “tough business.”
More: Food Network star Carl Ruiz dead at age 44; Guy Fieri ‘heartbroken’
Host Jason “Big J” Harris breezed past the controversial comments, but social media users didn’t.
“How sad to see Paula Deen once again speak without thinking about Chef Carl Ruiz’s untimely death,” @smbrocker tweeted Tuesday. “Apparently, she didn’t learn her lesson after losing her empire after racial slurs several years ago. Is it insensitivity or just plain ignorance? I’m thinking the latter.”
The social media user is referring to fallout from Deen’s widely publicized lawsuit deposition in 2013, where she admitted to using racial slurs in the past, including the N-word. As a result, the Food Network canceled her show and the star lost some lucrative endorsements.
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User @hotflesh tweeted: “Is it just me or does #PaulaDeen prove YET AGAIN what a HORRIBLE PERSON SHE REALLY IS. Making fun of a deceased person is so LOW. Glad @FoodNetwork took out the TRASH years ago. Her family must be embarrassed. The late #CarlRuiz deserves better and so do his family and fans.”
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“I was going to buy your book… Right up until you made that classless comment (regarding) #CarlRuiz,” @sotexmum added. “Does your cookbook include a recipe that cures Diarrhea Of The Mouth?”
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USA TODAY has reached out to Deen’s rep for comment.
Food Network host Guy Fieri said Sunday he’s “heartbroken” over the loss of Ruiz.
“I have no words to describe what a great friend he was to me and my family,” Fieri posted on social media. “His ability to make me laugh and smile under any circumstances was only outshined by his talent as a chef. Over the years, I’ve met a lot of great people but a friend like Carl is one in a hundred million.”
Contributing: The Associated Press