Having a Paula Deen Kitchen at Harrah’s in Cherokee has added a new reason for folks to visit Western North Carolina. Now, in addition to the breathtaking scenery viewed as you drive through the area, the endless hiking trails to explore, the interesting history and culture to discover at local museums, and the many opportunities to experience beautiful artwork done by talented artists at our local galleries, you can enjoy the comfort food of Paula Deen not far from The Windover Inn. But do you really?
What are you truly experiencing? Paula isn’t cooking there. You don’t get to hear her infectious laugh, see firsthand that twinkle in her eye that makes you think nothing in the world makes her happier than to make others happy. No one is telling her amazing success story or poking fun at themselves to make you feel like they’re just normal folk like you.
Yes, there’s a menu with fried chicken, macaroni and cheese and cheesy meatloaf, pictures of Paula, and a nice store with her product line, but there’s no Paula, just her “celebrity”. And as celebrity goes, that seems to work. People love just having an experience, a connection, getting closer somehow to that person they marvel on the screen. They can say they have been there – at a Paul Deen Kitchen, and that’s a little closer to actually meeting the star.
Although I’m not the type of person to get star struck, I must say I am impressed with Paula Deen’s story and success and understand why she clearly has “celebrity”. She exudes that southern hospitality that makes people feel welcome and comfortable, and her menu reminds people of the comforts of home. And even though you don’t get Paula Deen cooking in the kitchen of one of her restaurants, maybe just knowing she had a hand in its creation will give you that welcoming, comforting feeling, or at least a little taste of her celebrity, right here in the mountains of Western North Carolina!