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Growing up in Denton, Texas, as the youngest of seven children, Tim Love developed his barbecuing skills early on. "When we went camping, we'd cook on a little hibachi," he recalls. "It was awesome. My dad and I would go cruising around in an RV, and then we'd stop to go grill out, whether it was steaks, burgers or chicken." These days Love, 41, has built an empire out of grilling—he owns five Texas restaurants including his flagship Fort Worth bistro the Lonesome Dove, he's published two cookbooks and has a signature line of cooking accessories ranging from steak knives to flavored wood chips—but he still gets the same giddy feeling about cooking outdoors. "The great thing about grilling is that it creates an atmosphere where you're relaxed and can enjoy yourself," he says. "Even though grilling is my work, I love doing it every day. I can't get enough of it."

Of course, Love has majorly upgraded the equipment he cooks on from the old hibachi days. At his Fort Worth home, he has a state-of-the-art outdoor kitchen that—despite having more than ample space—he's purposely kept compact. "When it comes to cooking, I'm a little particular," he says. "I don't like anybody helping out. I built my kitchens so that there's really only room for one person to move around. I'm having fun when I cook, so I'd rather have other people drinking cocktails."

Love has plenty of helping hands around for prep work, though: his wife of 14 years, Emilie, 41—whom he met when they both were working at a Colorado restaurant—their son Tannahill, 11, and twin daughters Ella and Anna, 10 (who all use special kids' knives). "I had 'T' chopping vegetables when he was about 4," says Love of Tannahill. "And he's never cut his finger, knock on wood. The girls too. They love chopping vegetables and making pasta. Kids like anything that gets their hands dirty."

When it's time for the Love family to host a backyard barbecue, they literally go whole hog. "We keep a whole hog in the kitchen, so people have a cocktail and just shave off some ham," says Love. "And everyone always wants me to cook steaks, but I throw some seafood—grilled shrimp or a crawfish boil—and smoked vegetables on too." As for drinks? "We usually have some form of margaritas, because this is Texas, and we drink tequila here." But it takes more than just good food and drinks to throw a stellar barbecue, says the chef. "If we have a party for more than 50 people, we always have a live band," says Love, who also makes sure there are plenty of other diversions on hand. "We throw horseshoes and play bean bags. We're fortunate to live on a great street with a lot of close friends, so our barbecues create a great sense of camaraderie."

Tim's Grilled Steak

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