This was maybe not the classiest move. Paula Deen appeared on The Big J Show on radio station Hot 101.9 in Billings, Montana, on September 23 to promote her new cookbook and made a rather off-color joke about the death of celebrity chef Carl Ruiz during the show. DJ Jason “Big J” Harris asked Paula, 72, if she knew Carl or had ever worked with him, and if she had heard about his death. “He passed away suddenly yesterday,” Big J told Paula, “44 years old and suddenly died yesterday … I thought maybe you were familiar with him.” Paula replied, “No, I’m not, but I’m so sorry to hear that.” However, she then added, “You know, they say the restaurant business will kill ya.”

Guy Fieri actually revealed that his friend and fellow Food Network star had passed away. “I’m heartbroken that my friend chef Carl Ruiz is gone,” he wrote on Twitter on September 22. “I have no words to describe what a great friend he was to me and my family. His ability to make me laugh and smile under any circumstances was only outshined by his talent as a chef.” He added in another tweet, “Over the years, I’ve met a lot of great people but a friend like Carl is one in a hundred million. Carl ’The Cuban’ Ruiz will forever live on in my heart and in those of all who loved him.”

Chef Carl Ruiz Dead
Courtesy of Carl Ruiz/Instagram

Carl’s New York City restaurant, La Cubana, also shared the sad news on Instagram. “On behalf of the La Cubana family, with heavy hearts, we are deeply saddened to share the passing of our beloved Executive Chef Carl Ruiz,” the page shared in part. “No words can fully express our sadness at the sudden loss of our dear friend and brother.” The cause of Carl’s death is unknown at this time.

Paula previously got herself into hot water after admitting under oath in a deposition in 2013 that she had used racial slurs — including the N-word — in the past, according to Us Weekly. Among other repercussions, her own contract with the Food Network was not renewed in the wake of the controversy. Do you think her joke about Carl’s death was distasteful?

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