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A Whole Lotta Love

Though the dinner crowd at The Lonesome Dove Western Bistro is still hours away from arriving at the award-winning restaurant, Tim Love, 39, is anything but idle. For the celeb chef, kicking back is not an option—at least not this week. “I have a party for 1,800 people to plan for …” he says, adding, “I have a bunch of folks coming over to my house for an outdoor cooking event as well.”
That was the week of the much-anticipated Super Bowl XLV (though now, the frigid days before the huge game will likely be just as talked about and remembered as what took place inside Cowboys Stadium). But true to southern gentleman form, Love sat down for few moments to chat, despite his packed schedule.
With the handful of restaurants he runs, in addition to his TV show cameos and frequent nationwide food fête appearances, one would think Love is perennially occupied with his career. But in reality, Love is every bit the family man—happily married for 12 years to wife Emilie, and proud dad to 9-year-old son Tannahill, and 8-year-old, identical twin girls Ella and Anna. But since Love does, in fact, cook for a living, taking his “work” home really isn’t a bad thing. Besides, work also involves plenty of travel, and when it’s time to fly off to events like the Barbados Food & Wine and Rum Festival and the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, Love takes the whole family when he can. While Dad is busy working, the children do their own share of mingling. “The kids have a little clique going … Mario [Batali]’s kids, José Andrés’ kids [often tag along with their dads, too].”
Back at home, the Loves are eager to make their own culinary creations in the comfort of their own kitchen. The children even have their own set of knives. “We all love to cook,” says Love. “The kids love pasta—they make their own from scratch. They also love rolling the dough when they’re making pizza crust.”

Just don’t assume that mealtimes mean only noodles and pizza. All three children are intrepid eaters—although the occasional bribe is sometimes necessary. “I’ll give ‘em a dollar to try something,” shares Love. Happily, they’ll oblige. From the girls’ first oyster at 4 years old to T’s taste for sushi—he can devour 20 tuna rolls in one sitting—new flavors aren’t something they fear.
Then again, if any of them were made to try some of the concoctions Dad had to eat while he served as a guest judge on Bravo hit series, Top Chef, maybe it would be a different story. Without a doubt, the show has had its share of successful dishes, but sometimes, gastronomic failures send the show’s contestants to the back room with heads hanging low. Love’s take on being a judge? He prefers to tell it like it is. “I try to be as honest as I can be. There have to be no biases. It’s hard sometimes, especially when I know the person, but it’s the food I’m judging, not the people.” There are more critiques to come this spring when, his latest show, Best in Smoke, airs on the Food Network.

And just when you think Love couldn’t possibly have any more room on his plate, he’s got a few more big projects in the works: A third Love Shack location is scheduled to open in Denton this month. Also on the horizon: Love is working with Tarrant County and the Trinity River Vision Authority to open a global taco restaurant—the first eatery to be built on the Trinity. Though the name hasn’t been set in stone, “River Shack” is on the top of the list. A future Shack favorite of the kids? You can bet on it.

Sold-out football bashes, cooking demos and fame factor aside, the urbane cowboy is living proof that work and family don’t always have to be at odds with each other. For the lucky few, they come together naturally (with a one-buck incentive thrown in every now and then).  

Love Notes

How he got into the food realm: I spent my summers in Tennessee at my dad’s farm. We had a one-acre garden, and I had my hands in everything—the farm, taking care of animals—so all that knowledge was ingrained at a very young age. I sort of took the “back entrance” [toward becoming a chef]. Where most people have an interest in cooking, then acquire the know-how, I had the knowledge first, then gained a fondness for it.

His other day job: I try to be home on the weekends so I can be there for the kids—whether I’m serving as an assistant coach for T’s baseball team or softball for the girls.

Why fresh juice is a household staple: We’ve got a juicer with the power of a jet engine, and we juice everything—oranges, pineapples, spinach, celery … you name it.

Where you might find the Loves dining when in New York: [A gastropub called The Spotted Pig.] T had the best steak of his life there. As it turned out, it was grilled tongue—it simply melted in his mouth!

Why barbecue is not a meal: Barbecue is an occasion … there have to be coolers, drinks and good company.

No. of tries it took to create the perfect Love Shack patty: 75

Why milk straight from the fridge just won’t do: I absolutely love coffee—I have three coffee makers at home and they all steam milk. Coffee served without steamed milk is a pet peeve of mine.

What everyone will crowd around the TV for: We’re all huge sports fans. The kids don’t really watch TV during the weekdays, but a big sports event is an exception. Even then, by 8pm the TV goes off. [If it’s a close game,] I’ll let T listen to the rest of the game on the radio in bed, but he falls asleep soon after anyway.