Party at Mrs. Paula’s – Thanks to my Best Pal Brandon!

Ok, y’all (now re-read that in Mrs. Paula’s drawl), my good buddy, Brandon Branch and his boss lady, the fabulous Mrs. Paula Deen, hosted a book party for me to celebrate the release of my new cookbook, A Time to Cook. The party was divine, y’all!

Mrs. Paula opened her lovely home to me, my family, my staff and my friends and some of hers too for a night of book signing, fantastic food, fun laughter with old friends, fun laughter with new friends and the chance for worlds to collide – allow me to divulge.

Brandon, Mrs. Paula and my Savannah friends are dear friends indeed. They had met my sisters before, but never my parents, aunt and uncle (other parents basically), Susie and Lady and the super cute gals that run James Farmer Inc. My family world, my work world, my social world – they all collided into a night of tremendous delight! It is not that I was worried about the folks not liking one another; it was that I was worried, moreover, that my family would merge with Mrs. Paula’s and Brandon’s and we would never leave! When you spend so much time with one group, then so much time with another, the time when those groups converge can be magical, heartwarming and joyous – thankfully that was the case.


How could anyone not feel welcome with Brandon Branch and Paula Deen as your hosts? Hugs and kisses, not to mention hors d’oeuvres and cocktails, greeted us upon entering Mrs. Paula’s house for the party. My group is usually a party to begin with, and the flat tire en route ( 96 Tire and Collision is an amazing institution) didn’t even flatten our enthusiasm, zeal, excitement or even our hair – Mama kept her rollers in her hair until we reached the city limits of Savannah. My sisters and I can attest that we are the victims of Aqua Net affixation and minor brain cell damage from our childhood, but what Southern children are not? Anyways, I have digressed into the topic of “big hair” which, as y’all know, is an in-depth discussion for another day and time. I’ll just say that not only did my mother flip her head upside down to “fluff up” her hair before entering Mrs. Paula’s home, but Mrs. Paula also did the same thing before taking a photo with me – bigger the hair, closer to God.


After the good folks at 96 Tire and Collision got us back on our way, we merrily zipped on our way to Savannah and onto a memorable night. Of course, in true Farmer fashion, I had to change from my driving shorts to party pants upon arrival. Luckily I know the house, so I skipped on to the guest bath to find it occupied, so I figured Mrs. Paula’s nearby laundry room was vacant – but so did the wait staff catering the party from the Lady and Sons, so I wasn’t alone – ha! Oh well! I changed and they sorted plates! Spiffed up and wearing pants, I scurried into the living room where folks were gathering, mingling, admiring the house, perusing the pages of A Time to Cook, and taking in the gorgeous views of the waterway.

I briefly was reminded of Mumford and Sons song “For Those Below” and the line “…whispered notes from the piano in the corner of the room…” when I caught a gentle earful of piano music, and I thought to myself, “Listen up, James Farmer, soak up and enjoy every minute of this night. Say yes ma’am, please and thank you, smile and relish in the thought of how great your friends and family are to love and support your new book – all here together at PAULA DEEN’S HOUSE!!!.” The rest of the party was a blissful evening for all the senses:  I could see friends and family milling about, I could smell the jasmine and magnolia wafting in from the garden, I could hear music and laughter and conversation in harmony, I could taste the fantastic food, and I could feel – feel the warm hugs, handshakes and pats on the back.

Y’all know that I love to fluff and do flowers for any occasion. Brandon Branch is notwithstanding from this love either – he outdid himself! Hydrangeas billowed from every container, cache pot and vase in the house. The lanterns cast their romantic glow from outside in the garden. Tables boasted flowers, food and candles and the whole house shined like warm sunshine for us all to bask! You can truly tell who a good friend is in your life – especially when they fluff up Mrs. Paula’s whole house for your party! Thank you BB!!


The Lady and Sons catered the event, and every bite was scrumptious! Collard Green Wantons, Brie and Ham Puffs, Bacon Wrapped Asparagus, Macaroons in every shade and flavor imaginable and Crabcakes that were absolutely marvelous. The bar outside on the back terrace served libations and cocktails overlooking the marsh and river. I could have eaten my weight in those wantons!

For someone who loves a party, hosts a fair amount of them and even coordinates them for a living, it was a true honor and privilege to be the honoree. It is a pleasure to call Mrs. Paula a friend and to have been so blessed by her love and support. I cannot express my gratitude to Brandon for all he did and does for me. If I can be as good to my friends as they are to me, then I’ll be a good friend indeed. I hope y’all are blessed with great group of folks in your lives as this Farmer is – especially friends that will open their homes and heart and then decorate them with hundreds of hydrangeas.