In talking to Dean Fearing, it doesn’t take long to realize that the James Beard award–winning chef is just as passionate about cowboy boots as he is food. Boots (an embroidered pair) get a signature spot on his chef’s coat, and when the Texas heat isn’t in full force, they get a place in his kitchen, as his go-to shoe of choice. While others swoon over his barbecued-shrimp tacos and famous tortilla soup at his namesake Dallas restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton, the 56-year-old swoons over hand-tooling and stitch patterns. “They are pieces of art,” Fearing says of the thirty pairs that make up his collection. His love affair with kickers began in 1979, when, while working as a fish cook at the Pyramid Room, Fearing purchased his first pair. “They were Noconas,” he says, “and two hundred dollars, a big investment at the time.” Nowadays his custom-made boots run upward of $4,000, and the only brand he pulls on is Lucchese.

About the Items in Dean Fearing’s Closet

That’s my newest pair. It’s a prototype from a new Lucchese designer.

I got married in those boots. Wore them on my wedding day. They’re nineteen years old.

My yellow-rose boots are a rare pair. No one understands how much work goes into making a pair of boots.

Tom Hicks gave those to me when I consulted on the food for the opening of the American Airlines Center.

Okay, get this: These are a prototype where the inlay is done with steel thread. Isn’t that wild?

My wife, Lynae, has her sweaters and stuff organized by someone. She gave me a little section for my clothes and the shelves for my boots. The rest of the closet belongs to her.

I do yoga about three times a week, and boy hips don’t work as well as girl hips. This meditation pillow helps when I’m sitting.

You gotta have boot trees so they don’t sag. And you have to use boot cream at least three or four times a year so they don’t dry out.