Chef Tim Love of Ft. Worth's Lonesome Dove, White Elephant Saloon, and the Love Shack burger joints has been named the Official Chef of Austin City Limits. Eater Austin sat down with him for a chat about what that entails, his plans for an Austin restaurant, and what makes Austin the "cool city" in Texas.
You're the official chef of Austin City Limits. What does that mean exactly?
We're actually organically figuring it out as we go. [Hudson's on the Bend chef] Jeff Blank has been involved in ACL since its inception, trying to do some cool pop-up food there. [ACL organizers] C3 hired me, and Jeff is going to pass the torch over to me as far as the food court goes. We're going to slowly, over time, start adding more and more well known Texas celebrity chefs to bring their stuff to the festival. This year is kind of our preliminary year. Last year, I came down, I had the Love Shack there, just to check out the festival and see what was going on, if it was something I wanted to get involved with, and of course it is. Now I'm bringing Lonesome Dove down.
You know, talking to people, they want good food. They just don't want to spend a lot of money. One good thing about C3 is they're so adamant about keeping the ticket price down, and I in turn want to keep the food prices down. We want people to eat, enjoy themselves, and not feel like they're getting ripped off. As far as the food court goes, just bring in more and more quality food, and yet keep the price the same. With names that people know all over Texas.
I also do a lot of stuff for all of the bands that come and play. So, last year I cooked for Kings of Leon, Pearl Jam, Perry Farrell. Crooked Vultures played Austin City Limits the TV show the Thursday before ACL last year and they were flying out Friday, so I cooked them a big old dinner to take on the plane to go. It's a great honor, man. You know, I've been searching for a space in Austin for over a year now.
A space to open a restaurant in Austin?
I've been looking, yeah.
Do you have any details about what you would be thinking about putting in here?
No, but we do want to have a space in Austin. I think it's natural, especially with as much work as I'm going to be doing with ACL, I do want to have a home base there.
What are the big name Texan chefs you'd like to see come to the ACL food court?
I'd like to see Kent Rathbun come down. I'd like to see Bryan Caswell, Tyson Cole. The guys that I know are going to be fun. You've got to take it with a little bit of a sense of humor, cause you'll get your ass whipped. You talk to people, and you're like yeah, it's really busy, and they're like "How busy is it?" Busier than you've ever been in your life, that's about how busy it is. No, no, seriously, last year we sold 12,000 burgers. There are certain chefs out there who are super, super talented, but they're not interested in doing 12,000 of anything. It's just not some people's cup of tea. But I love that whole busting ass kind of feel. ACL provides it.
What are some of the bands you're excited to see this year at ACL?
The Black Keys, always a band that I want to go see. Course I want to go see Pat Green. He puts on a hell of a show. I'm really looking forward to seeing Phish. I haven't seen Phish in a really long time. I'm also looking forward to seeing The Eagles, whose music I am of course familiar with but I've never seen live.
What's your opinion of the Austin food scene, particularly as it compares to the Dallas/Ft. Worth restaurant scene?
Austin has always been known for being the "cool city" of Texas, for sure. I think the casual food scene in Austin is probably the best of almost any city in the country, meaning they've got some really cool, funky spots. They make food that's moderately priced, and you can go just about anywhere in Austin and find a grouping of these style of restaurants and you're going to go in and have a great meal and talk about it.
I think the higher end dining in Austin is not real strong, but I think that's also because they don't really demand it that much. I think people prefer to go to a really fun, hip, casual spot, and enjoy the food, and not spend too much money, and not have pretentious service. I think that's just what the city asks for. I do think Austin's got a much more driving food scene than Ft. Worth does, but Austin's got a lot of implants.
· All Tim Love Coverage on Eater Austin [-EATX-]