Chefs Paula Deen and Michael Symon attend KitchenAid® Culinary Demonstrations during the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival at Grand Tasting Village on February 23, 2014 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Getty Images)
(USA Today) -- Paula Deen is continuing to try to launch her comeback.
The celeb chef, whose world crumbled nine months ago after she admitted using the n-word in the past, told a crowd at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival in Miami Beach last weekend that she is "back in the saddle," and now she's telling People magazine in the issue hitting stands on Friday, "If it wasn't for my fans' love, I'd be home breathing into a paper bag."
PHOTOS | Paula Deen at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival
RELATED | Paula Deen says she's 'back in the saddle'
Deen says, "I'm fighting to get my name back," adding, "I feel like 'embattled' or 'disgraced' will always follow my name. It's like that black football player who recently came out," says Deen, referring to NFL prospect Michael Sam. "He said, 'I just want to be known as a football player. I don't want to be known as a gay football player.' I know exactly what he's saying."
At her lowest, Deen says, she took comfort in the kitchen. "I made eight cakes in six days," she tells People. The crazed baking prompted her husband of nearly 10 years, Michael Groover, 58, to tell her, "Honey, I don't know if I'm going to survive this," she recalls.
"I used to have dreams that I lost everything," Deen goes on to say. "And when it finally happens, you think, 'I'm still alive.'" As for what's she's learned, she says, "Michael told me, 'You've learned how badly words can hurt and how powerful they are.' I have been hurt by them, and I unintentionally hurt others. But I don't want that to define who I am."
* Crowds line up to see Paula Deen
* Man sentenced in Paula Deen extortion plot
* Judge approves dismissal of Paula Deen exortion lawsuit
* Experts: Deen done despite legal win