Paula Deen SOBS at First Public Appearance After Racist Scandal

9/14/2013 9:21 AM PDT

Paula Deen -- Sobs at First Public Appearance After Racist Scandal (Photos)

Breaking News

Paula Deen was a big butterball of emotion today during her first public appearance since settling the racial discrimination lawsuit that destroyed her career ... and we've got the pics.

Paula appeared in Houston, Texas today for the Metro Cooking and Entertainment Show to mark her return ... and got choked up after receiving a standing ovation when she hit the stage.

The 66-year old chef told the crowd she had been wanting her return to take place in Texas all along ... and was just shedding tears of joy.

In case you've been living under a rock -- Deen was dropped by tons of sponsors after she admitted to using the n-word during the depo for the lawsuit earlier this year.

The crowd in Texas seems to have forgiven Paula -- so we gotta ask ...