Pilot Flying J partners with chef Tim Love on own brand food line

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Pilot Flying J on Monday partnered with chef and restaurant owner Tim Love on a line of signature food items 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 regional 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, signaling a shift toward providing more diverse and notable food offerings for customers traveling on the interstate, Pilot J reported.

"I am thrilled to be partnering with Pilot Flying J. They truly want to provide a better food experience for their guests," Love said. "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 his 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," Love said. "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, VP 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 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 food options ranging from healthy green salads and fruit bowls, to freshly made sandwiches and dinners.

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