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.
“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.”
How sad to see Paula Deen once again speak without thinking about Chef Carl Ruiz’s untimely death.— Susan Brocker (@smbrocker) September 24, 2019
Apparently, she didn’t learn her lesson after losing her empire after racial slurs several years ago.
Is it insensitivity or just plain ignorance? I’m thinking the latter.
Another person, baffled by the joke, said he was glad she was no longer on the Food Network.
@GuyFieri is there a specific reason @Paula_Deen would make this joke about #CarlRuiz on the radio “You know, they say the restaurant business will kill ya,” she said before cackling and adding, “No pun intended.” Glad she is not at @FoodNetwork— jw (@burgundylue) September 24, 2019
It was also called a “sick joke.”
Sick joke. Sick answer.— lisekane (@lisekane2) September 24, 2019
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.”
I’m heartbroken that my friend chef Carl Ruiz is gone. I have no words to describe what a great friend he was to me and my family. His ability to make me laugh and smile under any circumstances was only outshined by his talent as a chef. pic.twitter.com/einY8qp7wf— Guy Fieri (@GuyFieri) September 22, 2019
Over the years, I’ve met a lot of great people but a friend like Carl is one in a hundred million. Carl ’The Cuban’ Ruiz will forever live on in my heart and in those of all who loved him.— Guy Fieri (@GuyFieri) September 22, 2019
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