On the third floor of the recently bankrupt and reborn Plaza Hotel, gospel singer Maryel Epps, large and clad in her signature cherubic white robe and white feather boa, preached the slow-cooked gospel of gluttony. The event — Paula Deen's Down Home Cookin' Gospel Brunch — had summoned Paula Deen fans from New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and Long Island for the chance to eat Poached Eggs with Hollandaise atop Short Rib Cake and glimpse a vision of their heroine.
The ballroom was full up with tables laden with flatware and empty glasses, waiting to receive orange juice and champagne. The rickety golden chairs creaked and groaned with their burden. In the other room, a buffet table was covered with Smithfield ham products in warming trays. Poached eggs trembled with the fear of the onslaught of forks and tongs that would soon decimate them. Mac and Cheese enjoyed one blessed moment of unity before it too would be ripped apart by the silver spoon and serving fork.