KNOXVILLE, Tenn., June 12, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Pilot Flying J, the largest operator of travel centers in North America, is announcing a unique partnership with renowned chef and restaurant owner Tim Love. Love will create new signature food items that will be available at all Pilot Flying J locations across the nation with the goal of providing fresh, convenient food options for interstate travelers. Known for his signature Urban Western cuisine, chef Love will also develop food items specifically for Pilot Flying J's Southwest region locations, focusing on the flavors and specialties that represent the region's fare.
This collaboration between a chef of Love's caliber and a major travel center network marks the first of its kind, signifying a shift towards providing more diverse and notable food offerings for customers traveling on the interstate.
"I am thrilled to be partnering with Pilot Flying J. They truly want to provide a better food experience for their guests," said chef Love. "Our mission will be to create nutritious options that are easy to carry and easy to eat – that criteria tends to be top of mind for most travelers, but hard to come by on the road."
Pilot Flying J's key focus in food and beverage includes innovating fresh, made-to-order items, establishing a strong culinary presence, and providing fresh quality offerings to those on the road.
"Offering our guests a variety of fresh, quality food options is a top priority for us at Pilot Flying J," said Whitney Haslam Johnson, chief experience officer for Pilot Flying J. "We hope to not only meet guests' expectations, but exceed them, and partnering with Tim Love will absolutely help us achieve that, providing a great experience for our guests."
Chef Love's inspired and innovative dishes have maintained critical and popular acclaim, having been recognized by prominent industry and epicurean outlets including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bon Appétit, and Food & Wine. Love also appeared on Bravo's "Top Chef: The Cruise" and "Top Chef Masters," as well as Food Network's "Iron Chef America."
Chef Love's career began in a kitchen in Knoxville – where Pilot Flying J is headquartered – while he was a student at the University of Tennessee. Today, his presence spans the nation from Seattle to Knoxville, though his roots remain close to heart with most of his restaurants located in his home state of Texas.
"I've always been a big fan of the brand, especially their Knoxville roots, and have been visiting locations regularly over the years while traveling," said chef Love. "I thought there might be an opportunity to see what we could do in this type of setting, as it's very different from the dining experiences I usually oversee and operate. There is certainly a need to challenge the status quo for those on-the-go and provide wholesome options."
Chef Love will be working closely with Shannon Johnson, vice president of food innovation at Pilot Flying J, to continue to develop the PJ Fresh Marketplace brand to give consumers choices and best-in-class food and beverage offerings along the interstate. The new working relationship aligns both Love and Shannon Johnson underneath the same purpose, which is the belief that travelers and professional drivers deserve better food options and more variety while on the open road.
"When I first met Tim, I could tell he was just as excited to up the food game in this space as I am," said Shannon Johnson. "It's important to me that we implement new items for our guests that are surprising, delicious and keep them coming back."
The company's proprietary PJ Fresh concept is based on the fast-casual restaurant idea of delivering fresh-made food to consumers, offering a wide variety of delicious food options ranging from healthy green salads and fruit bowls, to freshly made sandwiches and dinners.
Pilot Flying J, the largest operator of travel centers in North America, is committed to connecting people and places with comfort, care and a smile at every stop. Headquartered in Knoxville, Tennessee, Pilot Flying J has more than 750 retail locations, 44 Goodyear Commercial Tire and Service Centers and 35 Boss Shops all of which accept MyRewards loyalty cards, Pilot Flying J's loyalty rewards program. The Pilot Flying J network provides drivers with access to more than 70,000 parking spaces for trucks, 4,900 showers and more than 5,000 diesel lanes offering Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) at the pump. Pilot Flying J is currently ranked No. 14 on Forbes' list of America's Largest Private Companies. Visit www.pilotflyingj.com for more information.
About Chef Tim Love
Texas chef Tim Love is known as much for his vibrant personality as his signature urban western cuisine at critically and popularly acclaimed venues including Lonesome Dove Western Bistro in Austin, Fort Worth and Knoxville, Queenie's Steakhouse, Woodshed Smokehouse, Love Shack, and the storied White Elephant Saloon. Love is a founding partner of the Austin FOOD & WINE Festival and Music City FOOD & WINE Festival in Nashville, as well as the official chef of Austin City Limits. He recently debuted Back Dough, a late-night pop-up serving sweet and savory doughnuts out of his restaurants' back kitchen doors on the weekends, with outposts at Queenie's Steakhouse and Lonesome Dove Knoxville and Austin, in addition to an upcoming stand-alone store in Fort Worth. Love will also be expanding his portfolio to Houston this Spring, with three concepts in the works to open at Levy Park, including a second location of his acclaimed Woodshed Smokehouse.He lives between Austin and Fort Worth with his wife and three children. Follow @cheftimlove on both Instagram and Twitter.