Dean Fearing is a CIA graduate, a Dallas legend, one of the most prominent Southwestern chefs, and a James Beard Award winner. He spent two decades at The Mansion on Turtle Creek before opening his eponymous restaurant, Fearing’s, at the Ritz-Carlton, Dallas. The part-time musician also makes sure not to take himself too seriously, serving crowd pleasing comfort food dishes such as pork tacos at upscale events like Pebble Beach Food & Wine Grand Tastings. That’s where I finally got a chance to ask him 8 questions.
What’s the very first dish that you ever remember cooking?
It was probably a can of Chef Boyardee SpaghettiOs.
What do you remember about your very first night in a restaurant kitchen?
Probably how scared I was, in a professional kitchen, would probably be my first notion, and trying not to mess up, and learning the dishes, is what I remember about my first night.
Where was that at?
It was at my father’s restaurant. My dad was in the business. It was at a Holiday Inn probably when I was in ninth grade.
Was it a given that you would become a chef, or did you consider other careers?
No, I was going to be a rock star. I loved playing guitar, still do, have a couple of bands, and still love playing. When there was a fork in the road, I thought I could eat better if I was a chef.
How do you think being a musician helps you as a chef?
I think it all ties in with the creativity. It’s all about feeding that creativity animal that’s in me that I love to tame.
What’s the last dish that you created, and what was your inspiration?
It’s the barbecue pork street tacos we’re doing with a little green verde sauce and a little cotija cheese, and smoked pepitas. It’s the dish I’m doing today.
What inspired that dish?
How much people enjoy it at an event like this. Picking up and wrapping it in a corn tortilla.
Is there anything that you don’t enjoy eating?
I don’t like calf brains. They make me throw up.
That seems like something that you could easily avoid.