Bobby Deen used to be mad at his mother. He was a senior in high school when his mother divorced and moved Bobby and his brother, Jamie, from Albany, Ga., to Savannah, where she started a lunch delivery service, The Bag Lady.
Deen was 18, and he thought the move was awful.
And then, it worked out: The timing, the city, the luck. With the three of them working together, The Bag Lady grew into a restaurant, The Lady & Sons. Bobby’s mother, Paula Deen, wrote a little cookbook and became a worldwide sensation.
“I never could have imagined it,” he admits. “But what it tells me and what my mother has proven to me is, you really can do anything you want to do.”
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Today, Bobby Deen is host of “Not My Mama’s Meals” on the Cooking Channel and author of “From Mama’s Table to Mine: Everybody’s Favorite Comfort Foods at 350 Calories or Less.” And his mother, Paula, has lost more than 40 pounds after being diagnosed with diabetes.
He’ll sign copies of the new book at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Barnes & Noble - Arboretum, 3327 Pineville-Matthews Road.
And yes, it’s OK to ask about his mother.
“We’re very close, our lives and what we’ve done doesn’t need defending. It’s a true, honest story.” Kathleen Purvis
Q: Every kid has a food battle. What did you battle with your mother about eating when you were young?
“Liver! I didn’t like it. I still don’t love it. My mama would do beef liver. It was Paula Deen cooking it, so it was good, but it was still disgusting.”
Q: Between your home in Savannah and your show in New York, you’re on the road a lot. How do you handle airport meals?
“It is difficult. In most airports, there’s a Starbucks where you can get a fruit cup. But I make sure I don’t show up hungry at the airport. It’s a trap.”
Q: Are there any sacred Deen family recipes you wouldn’t or couldn’t lighten?
“There is one – but I did it anyway. My favorite is goulash, a glorified beef-a-roni. I try not to make it because my mama makes it on my birthday. I did a lighter version and used it in two books. But I’ll be the first to admit it’s not nearly as good as my mama’s.”