Known as the “father of Southwestern Cuisine,” Dean Fearing has given Dallas a lot more than the lobster taco. Fearing spent 20-plus years at the Mansion on Turtle Creek, pleasing the palates of visiting VIPs and the city’s movers and shakers, and fostering the culinary talents of such chefs as Kent Rathbun and Rick Griggs of Abacus, Eric Brandt of Bistro 31, “Naughty Chef” Blythe Beck, and Amador Mora of Maximo.
In 2007, he opened Fearing’s Restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton, Dallas. When not in the kitchen or charming diners at his namesake restaurant, you’ll find him wielding his vintage Fender Telecaster onstage — alongside Houston chef and fellow Southwestern Cuisine pioneer Robert Del Grande — with his all-chef alternative country band, The Barbwires.
We found out just what excites, annoys and engages this gregarious gourmet.
What is your chief characteristic?
My personality. My dad was an innkeeper in eastern Kentucky, and I was thrown into a hand-shaking society at an early age. It made me bubble up with personality.
Your idea of happiness?
My happiness is being with my two boys. Also meeting someone new who really fits into my life. Angela, my girlfriend of a year, has brought me an unbelievable amount of happiness.
Your idea of misery?
Misery is trying to do everything at one time: run a business, raise a family, do PR.
Your favorite food and drink?
Every morning I go by four coffee shops to get to Drip. For food, it’s a toss-up between Texas barbecue and Indian curry. They’re both so different, and they’re both what I absolutely love.
Your favorite motto?
Be professional. It’s the code I live by.
Your favorite heroes in real life?
There are a lot of ‘em, but Wolfgang Puck would have to be one of my mentors/heroes of all time. Wolfgang sat me down at an early age, when I was a young chef, and said, “There’s going be a lot of people with huge egos in our business, and you need to stay humble.” It hit me like a rock and has probably made me more successful than I could ever imagine.
If not yourself, who would you be?
I would want to be a famous singer/songwriter. I’m working toward that!
What is your favorite pastime?
Playing guitar. I’ve been doing it since Crosby, Stills and Nash came out in the summer of ’69.
What do you love most about Dallas?
I moved to Dallas in 1979 and fell in love with the spirit of this city. I loved the fact that rich people didn’t act like rich people and poor people didn’t act like poor people, and everybody got along. You can make something of yourself in this town, and people will let you do that.
What would you change about the city?
I would change people complaining about the hot weather. People have lived here their whole lives, but they complain about how hot it is, every year!
What makes a true Dallasite?
I think someone genuine; it’s what I’ve always loved about Dallas. Even people that move here get it really quick, the attitude of being courteous and genuine.