(Time) A tearful Paula Deen received a standing ovation at the Metro Cooking & Entertaining show in Houston on Saturday, telling her audience, “These are tears of joy, y’all.”

The Southern chef said it was her first public appearance since the controversy surrounding her erupted three months ago. She told the crowd that she wanted to make her first appearance in Texas because “you are forgiving folks with hearts as big as your state,” according to People.

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