Dean Fearing

Chef

Dallas

Often referred to as the “Father of Southwestern Cuisine,” chef Dean Fearing has put his stamp on Dallas. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America — and recognized by his alma mater as a “Pioneer of American Cuisine” — Fearing honed his kitchen skills and has received a handful of accolades, including a James Beard Award for the Best Chef: Southwest. After spending more than 20 years at Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, he opened his own eponymous restaurant at The Ritz-Carlton, Dallas. You’ll often see Fearing in the open kitchen donning his signature chef’s coat, blue jeans and, of course, cowboy boots. When he isn’t whipping up Granny Fearing’s “paper bag shook” fried chicken, you can find him strumming his guitar with his all-chef alternative country band, The Barbwires.

  • On March 12, 2013
    Dean Fearing answered the question: Dean Fearing

    What’s Dean Fearing’s favorite cuisine to cook?

    I would have to say Southwest cuisine. I can never get tired of chilies, quesadillas, nachos, enchiladas with a twist, tacos and great grilled meats. I’d have to say everything that fits into Southwest cuisine is what I still [do]. I’ve been doing it since Stephan Pyles, Robert Del Grande and I pretty much developed it in the early ’80s. I still enjoy cooking it, preparing it because I love the outcome, which is the taste.
  • On March 12, 2013
    Dean Fearing answered the question: Dean Fearing

    What are Dean Fearing’s favorite Dallas restaurants?

    I always love my friends’ restaurants. I love Stephan Pyles’ restaurant. He and I started off together back in the ’80s. He and I are still standing. We still have restaurants, so I think that’s something to say. Definitely a big nod to Stephan and his restaurant. Definitely Kent Rathbun’s Abacus and Jasper’s.

    When I’m off, my two boys and I are probably down-beating it a little bit. Definitely Nick Badovinus’ restaurant, Neighborhood Services — visit that a lot. Hillstone — George Biel’s offshoot of Houston’s — and R&D Kitchen, love those restaurants and visit those quite a bit. I go to the E Bar a lot, Eddie Cervantes’ restaurant for great Tex-Mex. For Italian, Bugatti, which is like going back in time for an Italian restaurant. We go there quite a bit. Zee, the maître d’, is the best. Kirin Court for some Chinese food, if I want to get a Peking duck over on Richardson there. That’s kind of home ground right there.

    Also we can’t forget the steakhouses. Chamberlain’s, Del Frisco’s, Nick & Sam’s, those are three great steakhouses that I go to all the time also.

    And then Nobu, for great sushi. You can’t beat Nobu. I know that he’s not standing there making it, but he’s got a good system and it works. That’s a great one.
  • On March 12, 2013
    Dean Fearing answered the question: Dean Fearing

    What are Dean Fearing’s favorite Dallas brunch spots?

    I think we have one of the best brunches in town, to tell you the truth. Granny Fearing’s “paper bag shook” fried chicken ranks up there in the top. After a big Saturday night, I myself am not much of a brunch guy. Smoke has a great brunch. I like going there.
  • On March 12, 2013
    Dean Fearing answered the question: Dean Fearing

    What are Dean Fearing’s favorite Dallas bars?

    I think the Rattlesnake Bar ranks up there on the top of Dallas. That’s part of Fearing’s restaurant; the Rattlesnake Bar is a rocking place. I think the Mansion Bar is still a great bar. If you want the best Tex-Mex, it’s at Eddie Cervantes’ bar. It’s called the E Bar; it’s on Haskell. It’s a fun little place. We’re talking a get-down-and-dirty bar.
  • On March 12, 2013
    Dean Fearing answered the question: Dean Fearing

    What are Dean Fearing’s favorite things to do in Dallas?

    We all go the Sixth Floor [Museum] down on Dealey Plaza. For me, we’d go eat barbecue. We’d go to Sonny Bryan’s, the original store on Inwood. Everybody who has ever visited me from out of town — from Julia Child to Charlie Trotter to Emeril to Charlie Palmer to you name any chef who has wandered through Dallas — I’ve probably taken them to Sonny Bryan’s.
  • On March 12, 2013
    Dean Fearing answered the question: Dean Fearing

    What are Dean Fearing’s favorite Dallas neighborhoods?

    The one I live in, which is Bluffview. It’s the area in Dallas that has the steepest hills. It’s totally in a four-mile-by-four-mile area. It has true bluffs. Our neighborhood used to be a city park in the teens of the last century and for good reasons. It had these hills and cliffs, these bluff views that overlook what would then be the outskirts of Dallas.
  • On March 12, 2013
    Dean Fearing answered the question: Dean Fearing

    What’s Dean Fearing’s favorite time of year in Dallas?

    I love winter. When you go through a summer here, you’ll love winter. I’m a coat guy, so I love to wear coats. Cold and rainy: That’s the best because I’ve got a coat for that. I love winter, but there’s nothing that beats a crisp fall day in Texas. Wow, those are gorgeous. And a cool spring day with everything starting to bud out and all that. Those are great weather days.

    Truly, I love the summer, too. I love that heat. You walk outside and you feel good. I power walk. I have a border collie. We hit my neighborhood. My neighborhood has these great up-and-down hills, real steep. Walker and I hit the streets. We hit a four-mile path, and in the summertime during that heat, you can’t feel any better when you’re done with that.
  • On March 12, 2013
    Dean Fearing answered the question: Dean Fearing

    What are Dean Fearing’s favorite markets?

    They remodeled our farmers market [in Dallas], but we’re still working on it. We have little farmers markets that just pop up in parking lots during the summer. Those are fun, but those are real local. There’s not one setting. Love those in the summertime.

    My favorite market is the Santa Barbara farmers market. Going through that farmers market last spring, I wanted to move to Santa Barbara. It was the heaven of all farmers markets I’ve ever been to. They were selling rabbits. Farmers markets selling rabbits. They sold everything you could ever want to buy to take home and start cooking that night. There were four chefs with me, and each one of us could have looked in the paper and started trying to buy a house that morning. It was the best market I’ve ever been to besides going over to Tokyo’s fish market or going over to Paris or Florence. Those are crazy markets on their own.

    In Dallas, in the summertime we have impromptu, pop-up markets that are great, but are we West Coast California yet? No. I wish we were. We have a tough dilemma; it’s called heat and no water. It doesn’t work for the greatest growing seasons.
  • On March 12, 2013
    Dean Fearing answered the question: Dean Fearing

    What are Dean Fearing’s most important kitchen tools?

    I’ve got quite a few. Good pots and pans are definitely a must in my kitchen at work and at home. A good cutting board — I’m a cutting-board guy. I just got a big, four-inch-thick butcher block, and I’m in love. It’s my new baby. I’m not kidding — I’m working on that constantly. My other favorite tool is wooden spoons. I love good, well-crafted wooden spoons for stirring, for cooking. Nothing beats a great wooden spoon and a squeezer. In my style of cuisine, we squeeze a lot of limes and lemons because we use a lot of juice. Having a great squeezer is like having a Cadillac.
  • On March 12, 2013
    Dean Fearing answered the question: Dean Fearing

    What’s Dean Fearing’s favorite cuisine?

    That is a tough question. I’m going to answer that very politically. I wake up in the morning and I have a hankering for barbecue, Lebanese, curry, Chinese, Thai. I get a hankering for those cuisines all the time. I love oysters. There’s a great oyster house two blocks down the street from us. In the middle of the afternoon, we’ll take a break and go down and eat oysters. That’s not every day, but we get a hankering for eating oysters or a po’ boy.
  • On March 12, 2013
    Dean Fearing answered the question: Dean Fearing

    How does Dean Fearing order when he dines out?

    A lot. I always want to try things. I have two boys, Jaxon is 14, he’s 6’3’’, and Campbell is 12 years old and he’s 6’0’’. These boys like to eat. When we go out, we usually order a lot of things on the menu so I can try it. I’m constantly wanting to see what chefs are doing. You end up ordering more dishes than you can probably eat, but it’s good. That’s what I want to do. I want to see dishes besides also experiencing the taste of them.
  • On March 12, 2013
    Dean Fearing answered the question: Dean Fearing

    Is Dean Fearing ever inspired by wine to create a dish?

    I like drinking wine with dishes, no doubt. I think that’s the most important thing in life — tasting great wines with the dishes. I don’t cook with wine as much as I used to in my French days, which was all about cooking with wine. Not that I don’t put a great red wine with a brown sauce in certain dishes; by all means, that is one of the true elements of a great brown sauce. For a lot of what we do Texas style, it doesn’t involve wine cookery because we’re using other aspects, chilies or stocks. Wine in with Texas-style food, it doesn’t fit the genre.
  • On March 12, 2013
    Dean Fearing answered the question: Dean Fearing

    How does Dean Fearing come up with his menus?

    Sit around and talk about it. For me, being older now, a lot of it is being able to distinctively taste items in your head. If I wanted to taste garlic and raspberry right now in a mental taste, I can do that. It’s interesting to be sitting around and talking about what we want to do and create a dish through a conversation and to put it together lock, stock and barrel. Then, at five o’clock that night, tasting that dish, and it’s exactly how you thought of it in the discussion or in your memory.
  • On March 12, 2013
    Dean Fearing answered the question: Dean Fearing

    What inspires Dean Fearing?

    Creativity. I love creativity. I love creativity because you can take an old, worn-out item, but, man, you can give it a new twist. You can take old traditional things and give them a breath of fresh air. Or, you can come up with a brand-new dish. We do that every day. That is one of the most stimulating things in the world. Just coming up with new dishes. It’s creative. I love creation of food.
  • On March 12, 2013
    Dean Fearing answered the question: Dean Fearing

    What does Dean Fearing love most about his job?

    I love most that I work with the greatest people in the whole wide world that are all on the same page as I am about caring for food, eating food, taking care of customers and all of that. I love to eat. I really do. I love trying things. I love trying new things. I love trying old things. Every day, I wake up and I am thinking about what I want to eat that day. It absolutely drives Angela, my girlfriend, crazy. She’s like, “We’re eating breakfast, and you’re thinking about lunch. We’re eating lunch, and you’re thinking about dinner.” That is kind of how it goes in my world.