Paula Deen is one of the most well-known celebrity chefs in America. The 74-year-old Southerner owns a successful chain of family-style restaurants, has published close to two dozen books, and has her very own channel on Roku. She’s also faced controversy and backlash, most notably for admitting to using racial slurs in a 2013 deposition. Through both the good and the bad, Deen’s partner, Michael Groover, has been by her side. Here’s everything you need to about Paula Deen’s husband.
Paula Deen Has Been Married To Michael Groover Since 2004
While Deen and Groover have been married for quite some time now, Deen had an even longer first marriage to a man named Jimmy Deen (who’s not the same guy as the legendary singer and sausage maker, Jimmy Dean.) The couple married in 1965—when Paula was just 18 years old—and had two sons together, Jamie and Bobbie. The pair remained married for 24 years, during which time Paula honed her Southern-style cooking skills while working as a housewife. It wasn’t until after she and Jimmy Deen divorced in 1989 that Paula decided to embark on a cooking career and open her first restaurant, The Lady & Sons.
Fortunately for Deen, her late-in-life career success also came with a second chance at love when she met Michael Groover. Nine years her junior, Groover was a tugboat caption and a neighbor of Deen’s when they met. Fate brought them together when Deen’s dogs wandered into Groover’s yard—and Groover was instantly smitten.
“So when I met this white-haired gal who comes galomphin’ onto my property yellin’ her dogs had gotten loose, I got interested,” Groover wrote in his book, My Delicious Life With Paula Deen (as reprinted by Today.com). “Probably the initial thing that really had me excited about Paula—the first thing that caught my attention anyway—was her eyes. God, they were this gorgeous, deep, early mornin,’ sparklin’ sea-blue eyes—I’d never seen anyone with eyes like that. And her enthusiasm and energy were contagious.”
Like Deen, Groover had also been married and divorced and had children of his own. He admits that he wasn’t looking to fall in love when Deen crossed his path. He wrote in his book. “I’d recently come off a long and tough marriage… I’d pretty much made a vow, matter of fact, that I didn’t want to marry again and I’d be happy to live the rest of my life alone with my children.”
Of course, Groover ended up breaking that vow. He and Deen tied the knot in 2004, at a lavish ceremony at the Bethesda Academy in Savannah. Of course, the menu featured some of Deen’s famous Southern-style dishes, including shrimp & grits, pickled okra sandwiches, fried collard green wontons, and The Lady & Sons crab-stuffed shrimp.
He Also Shares Paula’s Passion For Food
It’s no surprise that Groover and Dean have such successful marriage, as they’re both from the South and have a big passion for food. Groover has appeared frequently on Deen’s cooking shows and has also contributed to a number of her cookbooks. He even has his own line of coffee, Captain Michael’s Coffee, that he sells on his wife’s website.
Like his famous wife, Groover has strong opinions when it comes to food. And he’s not afraid to express them, even if it’s at Deen’s expense. In a 2008 interview with Good Housekeeping, the Positively Paula star explained, “Listen, he hurt my feelings so bad. He said his mama made the most fabulous pear crisp in the world, so I said, Well, I can do that. So I made it, and I said, ‘What do you think?’ But now, you cannot ask Michael a question if you don’t want the truth. The man doesn’t have a lie in him. And so he said, ‘Well, it’s just not nearly as good as my mama’s.’ And I’ll tell you, I’ve tried it many times since, that darn pear crisp, and I still can’t get that sucker right!”
The marriage between Deen and Groover is still going strong. In 2021, Deen posted a sweet tribute to her husband on Instagram in celebration of their 17th wedding anniversary, writing, “Happy anniversary to the love of my life and the one who can always make me laugh—my husband Michael!”