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Behind-the-Scenes with Restauranteur Lynae Fearing

Picture a Dallas family pulling up chairs every night to the dinner table – but the table’s not actually at home. Because both Mom and Dad work, dinnertime gets carved out at their respective businesses. If Mom’s putting in late hours, they nosh at her “office.” If she’s off for the night, they head over to one of Dad’s work haunts.

It’s a prospect that doesn’t sound very satisfying at all … until you realize that Mom and Dad are the forces behind some of Dallas’ most exquisite cuisine. Lynae Fearing, co-owner of Dallas hotspot Shinsei, and husband and renowned chef Dean Fearing (formerly of The Mansion on Turtle Creek and presently of Fearing’s at the Ritz-Carlton) are raising their two grade-school boys on a four-star mélange of family values, a creative and vibrant work ethic, plenty of time with Mom and Dad – and, oh yeah, good dinners. Really, really good dinners.

What She Does
A passion for food obviously runs in the family. In its planning stages, Shinsei blossomed as a collaboration between Fearing, co-owner Tracy Rathbun (wife of Abacus and Jasper’s chef Kent Rathbun), their fantastically experienced husbands and former Shinsei executive chef (and Top Chef season-three finalist) Casey Thompson. When the restaurant opened to rave reviews, Thompson took the creative reins, leaving Fearing and Rathbun to supervisory roles.

Mobile management helps Fearing keep it all together. She or Rathbun are always at the restaurant during serving hours. The rest of the time, she operates from a home office and, mostly, from her trusty cell phone.

How She Does It
Constantly editing her priorities keeps Fearing focused. “I used to be a room mother (at school) before we opened the restaurant, and I had to bow out of that because we … are … so … busy,” she admits. She ticks off her to-do list: charity events at Shinsei, increased demands for catering, karate, tennis and soccer for the kids, Shinsei’s expansion/renovation … and trying to keep the house together. “Of course it definitely falls to the woman and not the husband, even though we both have jobs,” asserts Fearing. “I’m the one who has to make sure that we have groceries, and the house is clean, and they get to where they’re going … Then I get pulled into all the restaurant stuff.” Add teaching twice-weekly yoga classes in her home (she’s a part-time yoga instructor), plus carving out time for workouts, and Fearing finds her days completely booked. “I feel pretty accomplished if I can do [all] that,” she reports.

The most unusual aspect of life in the Fearing family, not surprisingly, is the way they eat. Dinner at home is a rarity. Most often, the family pulls up a table at one of the Fearing establishments – and yes, the kids eat off the Shinsei menu. “They love it!” she exclaims. “When it was Yamaguchi’s, we used to take them there. So they’ve been eating tuna tartare and the tofu with spicy ponzu and things like that for a long time. We want them to eat regular food like we’re eating. They can survive on grilled cheese and chicken fingers, I guess, but I don’t really want them to.”