Paula Deen makes joke about celebrity chef Carl Ruiz's death

Paula Deen is facing criticism yet again — this time for her reaction to the sudden death of celebrity chef Carl Ruiz.

The Queen of the Donut Burger, 72, appeared on Monday’s The Big J Show, which airs on radio station Hot 101.9 in Billings, Mont., to promote her food empire. During the interview, she was asked if she knew Ruiz, the 44-year-old owner of La Cubana restaurant in NYC, who was a regular on Guy Fieri’s Food Network shows and friends with many of the network’s stars.

BOCA RATON, FL - JANUARY 30:  Paula Deen signs copies of her book during Cuts the Fat Book Tour on January 30, 2016 in Boca Raton, Florida.  (Photo by Aaron Davidson/Getty Images)

“No, I’m not” familiar with him, Deen, who genuinely seemed caught off-guard, replied, “but I’m so sorry to hear that.”

However, she then said, “You know, they say the restaurant business will kill ya,” cackling at her joke. She then added, “No pun intended.”

A rep for Deen has not responded to Yahoo's emails requesting comment.

They discuss Ruiz at the 7:10 mark:

The host ultimately changed the topic to how Deen got her start in the food world, but the comment didn’t go unnoticed. One person wrote on Twitter that it was “sad” to see Deen “once again speak without thinking, adding that “apparently she didn’t learn her lesson after losing her empire after racial slurs several years ago.”

Another person, baffled by the joke, said he was glad she was no longer on the Food Network.

It was also called a “sick joke.”

Some of the other reactions to Deen’s comment weren’t worded as thoughtfully.

Of course, the “losing her empire” reference was about Deen admitting to using the N-word while being deposed in a discrimination lawsuit in 2013. As a result, her business, which had pulled in an estimated $17 million the year before, unraveled and the Food Network severed ties with her. However, she’s continued to open restaurants and release cookbooks, including her latest, Paula Deen's Southern Baking: 125 Favorite Recipes from My Savannah Kitchen, which she was promoting on the radio show.

Ruiz’s unexpected death — on Saturday of a suspected heart attack — was announced in a post on his restaurant’s Instagram account.


Fieri paid tribute to his “great friend,” who appeared on three of his shows: Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Guy’s Grocery Games and Guy’s Ranch Kitchen. He said a friend like Ruiz was “one in a million.”

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