A few weeks before the Paula Deen Live event, I got an email asking if I wanted to attend a meet and greet that would be held after the show was over. How awesome would that be? If the crowd is too large, I may not get to meet her—but maybe I can at least see Paula Deen up close.
The after-hours event would be about an hour after the show ended, so I’d definitely be in for a long night. I’d be home well past my bedtime. But, I responded “yes” to the invite. Let’s see what happens.
When I checked in at Will Call, I was given my ticket to the show and a special pass for the “After-Hours Social.”
As I wrote in an earlier post, the live event was very energetic and you could feel the excitement in the theater. Paula is back and the fans have been ready for her return.
After the show was over, I sat around in some comfy chairs in the theater lobby. There were several other people hanging out as well. To pass the time, I took out my tablet and did some quick Bing searches.
One search on Lee Greenwood showed that he and I shared the same birthdate: October 27th. Now that’s interesting!
At some point, all those people disappeared and I found myself alone. I could hear music upstairs on the Mezzanine level—and that’s where the party was starting. One table was set up serving flutes of champagne and another table was serving sweets. And there were a lot of people waiting on Paula!
Lee Greenwood and his wife made and appearance. A few people gathered around and took some photos with him. When it was my turn, I told him that I had just discovered that we had the same birthday. “I think I’m a little older than you!,” was his response.
Then, you begin to notice others are starting to trickle in. Graham Elliott is here:
I snag a moment with him long enough to tell him that I remembered watching him on Good Day New York when I briefly lived in NYC. “You must’ve been an infant!” What a charmer…
If I’m not mistaken, I’m seeing the Deen Brothers walking around. Jamie and Bobby are chatting and posing for pictures with the crowd.
There’s no way Bobby would remember talking to me during his book signing a year or so back. But when I get my chance, I say, “Dude! I blogged about you then you wrote another cookbook and didn’t tell me when you came back to Charlotte!” He laughed and gave me a big hug. We took a photo together and he noticed the picture came out very dark. He took my phone and started to see how he could adjust the brightness. Not much luck, but here’s the photo…
And then, I spotted his brother, Jamie. I mentioned that I had been live tweeting during the show. He said, “Did you mention me in one of them? Because I thought I saw someone had tagged me in a tweet about the show.” How awesome is that?
We talked about his recent cookbook and I now I've got to find a copy for my collection. Not to mention that second cookbook that Bobby just put out as well.
And then she arrived!
The elevator opened and you could see her husband, Michael Groover, first and then you see the hair. Paula Deen has arrived to the party. The room we’re in is circular and she starts on the less crowded side and makes her way, person to person, until she reaches the crowd. Her security guard, Hollis, announces that she’ll take selfies with individuals very briefly, but it’s gotta be quick.
I’m not inclined to jump into that crowd. For the moment, I’m happy to stand back and watch the madness.
I’m near the bar and when I turn to left, I see Michael Groover. “Hey, you held your own up there on stage!” He was very nice and I was able to grab a picture with him.
Now, I’m just watching Paula Deen work the crowd. She’s great at it. Big smile, big laugh and happy to see every single person. It’s quite an amazing feat to see how she gives attention to each person.
It takes a while, but she gets closer to me. And when she’s right in front of me, I say, “I logged on the website this afternoon and it looked great.”
She threw her hands up in the air and shouted, “Hallelujah!”
I then told her that I had live tweeted throughout the show. “I’ll read them all while we drive up to New York City!” Really? I’d be thrilled if she did. But I think she’s got bigger things to do. Her new digital network is now officially launched and she’s on her way to reclaim her empire.
But before she left, I snagged this photo…