SAVANNAH, Ga. -- Paula Deen has found a key ingredient to bringing some sizzle back to her career -- a cash infusion worth at least $75 million from a private investment firm.

The Savannah-based celebrity cook, whose fortunes took a dive last year because of comments she made in a lawsuit, announced Wednesday she's formed a new umbrella company for her restaurants, cookbooks, product endorsements and other media deals. The new company, Paula Deen Ventures, said private-equity firm Najafi Companies is investing $75 million to $100 million in Deen's comeback effort.

Jahm Najafi, CEO of the Phoenix-based investment company, says he's confident Deen's new venture will succeed in part thanks to her "loyal fan base."

In a statement, Deen also thanked fans "whose love and support have built my brands."



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