Paula Deen at grand opening of Family Kitchen: what the area means to her

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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Paula Deen grew up in Albany, Georgia, just hours away from the Emerald Coast.

"Panama City meant so much to Georgia, lower Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, because of that Panhandle," said Deen.

Giving her the opportunity to visit the area often.

"Every minute that we got growing up we came down here," said Deen.

And she and her family and friends found a special place in their hearts for the Panhandle.

"Many, many, many fond memories down here for all of us that grew up in Albany," said Deen.

Making her want to share a taste of her family cooking with the area.

"I feel like I'm getting to touch a lot of people that I wouldn't necessarily get to feed and meet," said Deen.

For those at the ribbon cutting in Panama City Beach Thursday, they were excited to meet the chef behind the recipes.

"It's amazing. I mean, we don't have this we're from Missouri so we don't have this opportunity you know at home to meet Paula," said area visitor, Ashley Dotson.

"The food here is great, and if I can meet the person that's actually prepared the food, or she's come up with the food and she makes, it would be a new experience," said area visitor Henry Figueroa.

For Deen, it's all about giving people the taste of a lifetime.

"To bring a plate of food to somebody and see their eyes roll back in their head, you know, that's what us cooks live for," said Deen.

Leaving some saying... butter y'all!

Paula Deen also brought a donation to Bethel Village on behalf of her Bag Lady Foundation, which helps to support women and families.

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