Interview: chef Tim Love, a Texas culinary Lonestar

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Photo courtesy of Tim Love

Chef Tim Love, a man perhaps best known for his commitment to cooking game, or possibly to his Lonestar personality, started building his restaurant group in 2000 with the opening of The Lonesome Dove Western Bistro at the Fort Worth Stockyards. He since added The Woodshed Smokehouse in Fort Worth, three branches of the Love Shack burger concept, and took over the White Elephant Saloon, a Wild West landmark with live music that dates to 1887. He’s parlayed his restaurant success into television, where Love has helped judge “Top Chef” and “Best in Smoke,” and even competed on “Iron Chef America,” where he tussled with Masaharu Morimoto in Kitchen Stadium in a battle of chile pepper dishes. On March 13, he conducted a series of phone interviews in support of Hellmann’s Chicken Change-up and shared several culinary insights:

Was it a given that you’d become a chef, or did you consider other careers?

I thought I was going to be a corporate lawyer and I took a job making salads at this one restaurant when I was in college and fell in love with it.

What was your very first night like in a professional restaurant kitchen, and where was it?

It was absolute misery [laughs]. The guy that was supposed to train me didn’t show up, and we were extremely busy – it was right after a football game in Knoxville, Tennessee. It was a restaurant called Kotsie’s (sp?) Grill and Spirits.

What do you look for when you’re hiring someone to work in one of your kitchens?

Somebody that’s got a lot of drive, somebody that doesn’t want to quit, and somebody who can really – quite frankly – take a beating. Working in the kitchen is not easy to do and working in my kitchens, which are extremely busy, puts a lot of pressure on somebody. I can teach somebody how to cook but I can’t teach somebody to survive on the line.

What is your favorite part about owning a restaurant?

You know, I guess it’s the creativity. You know, owning restaurants is a lot more than just cooking and serving people – there is a huge business side to it but the fun part is obviously the creativity of creating new things, new ideas, new looks, new feels to restaurants and things like that and it makes for a lot of fun for me.

What do you want to be known for as a chef?

You know, I don’t know what that is yet. I don’t really look at myself as something like that, I pretty much just like to keep my head down and cook and create new and cool stuff and you know if people appreciate it, that’s a bonus.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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