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Paula Deen Returns to South Beach Wine and Food Festival

Paula Deen returns to SoBeWFF.
Paula Deen returns to SoBeWFF.
Laine Doss

Add one more name to the celebrity roster at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival.

Paula Deen.

Deen will be hosting a cooking demonstration with her sons, Jamie and Bobby at the Grand Tasting Village on Sunday, February 23, at 4:15 p.m.

See also: Post Diabetes: Paula Deen Talks Sweet Tea, Miami Cruise and Ghosts

The announcement comes as a surprise, since the matriarch of the Food Network cooking family was not scheduled to appear at this year's festival. Indeed, Deen's name is still missing from the SoBeWFF website.

SoBeWFF founder and director Lee Brian Schrager is pleased to welcome Deen back to Miami, saying, "Paula is a longtime supporter of both of our festivals and has helped us raise millions of dollars for charity. We are always looking forward to having her join us on the beach in February."

And, it seems that the Lady, herself, is happily anticipating a weekend of fun, food, and sun. "Paula is looking forward to the annual wine & food festival weekend in February. Festival founder, Lee Schrager, is a longtime friend and his team really does put on the best culinary events," said Elana Weiss, spokesperson for Paula Deen. "Paula cannot wait to see all of her fans who she loves so much while also supporting the efforts benefiting FIU's Chaplin School of Hospitality."

Deen's appearance at the festival could signal a major comeback for the celebrity chef after her career took a severe beating in 2013. A controversy regarding the chef admitting to using racial slurs during a deposition for a lawsuit, led to an announcement by Food Network that they would not renew her contract. Several major corporations then dropped Deen from lucrative endorsement deals. In August, a Federal Judge dismissed the racial bias aspect of the lawsuit, and a settlement of the remaining claims was said to be in the works.

See also: Bring Back Paula Deen: Read the Deposition Transcript

Deen, however, managed to maintain a loyal fan base, and a "We Support Paula Deen" Facebook page has over 600,000 "likes".

Deen's Grand Tasting Village demonstrations are always well attended and entertaining. In the past, Deen's appearances have been well attended, with fans eagerly lapping up the Southern chef's onstage antics. In the past, Deen's britches have fallen down and she rode burly celebrity chef Robert Irvine like a pony.

Tickets to the Grand Tasting Village are $225 for the entire day ($275 gets you admission to the GTV, along with reserved premier seating for all culinary demonstration), but frugal fans of Deen have a more affordable way to see the family in action.

The "Afternoon Fix" ticket gives guests access to the Grand Tasting Village on Sunday from 3 - 6 p.m. at the reduced price of $125 -- enough time to sample some wine, get a nosh, and snag a primo seat to watch the Lady and Sons do their thing!

Tickets go on sale Monday, January 27 for the "Afternoon Fix"; but are already on sale for regular GTV access.

Follow Laine Doss on Twitter @LaineDoss and Facebook.

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