Disgraced TV chef PAULA DEEN faces new heartache after her hubby of nine years walked out on her following a fiery blowup over his cheating!

Sources say Paula recently confronted tug boat captain Michael Groover, 57, after a friend told her he was two -timing her with a secret mistress, blasting him for endangering her chances of a career comeback.

The ENQUIRER has conducted a wide-ranging investigation in the trouble couple’s hometown of Savanna, Ga., and dis­cover d shocking details of both Michael’s adulterous affair and the knockdown, drag-out fight it sparked with Paula, 66..

“Paula was recently told that Michael had a secret mistress and it’s pushed their marriage to the breaking point,” a source told The Enquirer.

“Savannah is such a tight knit community where gossip spreads quickly, so it was only a matter of time before Michael’s cheating got back to Paula.

“When she heard about it, Paula went on the warpath. She had an explosive argument with Michael that it ended with him storming out of the house!”

Sources in Savannah tell The ENQUIRER that Michael carried on an intimate relationship with a sexy, middle-aged brunette. The woman has known Michael and his family for years, and lives on Savannah’s Wilimington Island within a few miles of the palatial home shared by Paula and Michael..

While Michael usually dropped by the woman’s house they sometimes slipped out to have drinks with friends at local bars, revealed an insider close to the woman,

“Michael was at his mistress’ house nearly once a week, as regular as clockwork for a long time,” the insider told The ENQUIRER.

“It was no secret that they were having an affair. It went on for more than a year, and the only surprise is that it took Paula so long to find out about it.”

Stories about Groover – a divorced father of two when he met Paula 11 years ago – and his mistress have long circulated around Savannah, where Paula launched her business empire with The Lady & Sons restaurant, confirmed the first source.

“A girlfriend finally told Paula what everyone was saying about Michael behind her back and she nearly went through the roof!” said the source.

 “Paula immediately confronted Michael. He denied cheating, but she wasn’t satisfied that he was telling the truth and needled him relentlessly. Finally, Michael got fed up and took off in a huff!”

Eventually, both of them cooled down and Michael returned home, said the source.

“He swore to Paula that he hadn’t cheated,” the source continued. “But she still isn’t convinced that he’s being completely honest.”