Famous Black Chef Paula Deen Might Be Racist ... But I Still Respect Her

6/20/2013 5:50 AM PDT

Famous Black Chef Joe Randall -- Paula Deen Might Be Racist, But I Still Respect Her


Famed black Southern chef Joe Randall -- who once taught Paula Deen a few tricks -- says he's extremely hurt by Deen's admitted use of the n-word ... but tells TMZ, he'd STILL welcome her at his establishment.

Randall -- who runs the famous Savannah Cooking School in Georgia where Deen once studied -- tells us, he can't say definitely whether Deen's a racist simply because she once used the n-word ... but says, "I can say that her admitting to using derogatory language and the n-word is very hurtful."

Randall called the language racist, but said, "You have to understand we're in the South and some people think that it's acceptable to use [racist] language from 50 years ago."

Now the shocking part ... Randall says, "As a businessman, of course she is welcome in my establishment like any other client would be. I wouldn't turn her down at all."

He adds, "Although I don't respect that she used derogatory hateful words ... and if she came into my establishment and we were to talk, I would tell her I don't agree with her words."

Translation: money talks, racist or not.