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Art of the Meal

Art of The Meal: Tim Qualls Discusses How Food Plays a Role in Family Life

Tim Qualls recent singles “Forever” and “Grave” give insight into his unapologetic style that he emulates in both his music and as a foodie.



Tim Qualls, photo by Kirby Betancourt
Tim Qualls, photo by Kirby Betancourt

Best known for his rootsy soul music that is grounded in family, heartache, and a positive outlook on life very few write about, Houston artist Tim Qualls is also a self-proclaimed foodie. With his productions drawing comparisons to Adele, Sam Smith, and Ryan Tedder and landing on coveted Spotify playlists (including “Dinner Music” – foresight perhaps?), his recent singles “Forever” and “Grave” showcase his organic, unapologetic style that’s not afraid to take risks, blend genres, and create something uniquely his own.

According to Tim, he approaches his music the same way he approaches the kitchen – unapologetically taking risks, blending cultures, and trying new concoctions to create something completely original. We sat down with Tim to discuss his favourite foods and the craziest dishes he’s experienced and dive deeper into how creating in the kitchen is interwoven into his family lifestyle.

What’s your favourite type of food (i.e… Korean, Italian, comfort, fine dining, etc.?)

Tim Qualls: “ASIAN! I’m half white, half Asian (Indonesian/Chinese). So I was raised on Indonesian food which is world renown. And it’s about as big as a food can be to me and my family. We cook Indo food, and use Indo flavors in everything we cook. The only Asian food I’m not heavy into is PHO. So I probably eat Asian( Indo, sushi, Asian sauces or meat) 2 times a week if not more.”

What’s the most expensive dish or meal you’ve ever had?

“My wife and I once went to a Perry’s Steak House to celebrate an occasion and we went last minute so we had to wait for a table for like 45 minutes. In the lobby, they had a meat window showing A5 JAPANESE WAYGU. So for 45 minutes I hungrily stared at this meat. So by the time we got to ordering my eyes were bigger than my stomach, so my wife and I BOTH ordered like 6-8 Ounces of WAYGU, and forgot to even look at the price. We ended up only being able to eat like 4 ounces each. (Best left overs I’ve ever had) The final check was like $1500 or something insane. Luckily we had the money, and moral of the story is, reserve your table ahead of time so you don’t get stuck looking at the Meat display!”

Photo of Tim Qualls with mom, Gladys, in the kitchen

Photo of Tim Qualls with mom, Gladys, in the kitchen

Growing up, what were your experiences of food and eating? Did you cook a lot as a kid, or mostly watch? Are there specific memories of eating growing up that stand out to you (that you feel comfortable sharing)?

“Oh yea. Before I was born my parents owned a restaurant in Amsterdam, cooking American food. So we grew up helping and cooking everywhere. My dad also had a side business once he retired, cooking brisket as well. So no matter the occasion we were cooking SOMETHING. They also, later had a food truck of their own doing a little bit of everything that they would have at their local farmers market, and I have lots of memories cooking in there. My dad at some point acquires a brisket cooker that, if you chose to, could cook like 50+ briskets at one time.

“The memories are just countless examples of making brisket outside, or shopping at Asian markets with my mom. Usually cooking is an all day thing, so hanging out, talking, and laughing is what the day ends up being all about. It’s my number 1 thing I love to do with my mom, is cook something together. And it’s one of the things my kids now are learning to fall in love with as well. I’m lucky to get to share that stuff with them now, and have my mom do the same with them.”

What would you like your last meal to be?

“Some sort of comfort food. Probably Indonesian Rice or noodles, with some hot chili sauce, onions, and a couple runny eggs on top.”

What’s your go-to dish that never fails?

“I actually make a pretty mean Asian glazed Salmon that hits any time of the week, plus is super healthy. I’ve perfected it over the years, but the spices have evolved and sometimes its on the pan, sometimes in the oven, and if we are in a rush, in the air fryer. (BTW, air fryers are LIFE).”

What’s your least favourite dish that everyone else seems to love?

“Thanksgiving/ Christmas Turkey or Ham. I’d rather eat the sides honestly. Or Tamales or something with real flavor. Every year I’m scouring the Internet for different recipes that will make those dinners unique and more special than just some generic turkey or Ham.”

Do you prepare a lot of your own food?

“Oh yea. I do all the cooking in my house. Sunday mornings are for weekly prep and grocery shopping. My wife and I are super busy within our respective careers, so if I don’t lead the week food wise, we end up ordering food or eating unhealthy. So, for me, one of the best ways to serve my family right, is to be the first one up and lead the house food wise. PLUS, I love cooking. So for me and for my family it’s a win/win.”

Photo of Tim's son with self-decorated cake

Photo of Tim’s son with self-decorated cake

What is the “strangest” food you’ve ever tried and how are you with “less standard” foods?

“I was on a trip in Zimbabwe once, and at the hotel buffet they were serving some sort of meal worms. Like directly next to the green beans. And we tried it, but I wouldn’t recommend it!

“Also, one time we were on a cruise , and we were in St Marteen. And we had extra time to kill, so we asked our guide what the local delicacy was. His answer. IGUANA. So he took us to this hut on the side of the road. It looked like a place where a hurricane had been and knocked down everything but the kitchen. And boom out of the kitchen came a freshly killed and cooked, whole IGUANA, served with rice, beans, and plantains.

“Now to clarify, my wife and our friends ate it and I didn’t. I just ate the SIDES. But, as you can imagine it went about exactly as you thought it would. Less standard? I try to be healthy, but let’s be honest, some of the best food is food truck ANYTHING, OR the nearest burger place. I am down with that life any time of day.”

That is your favorite fast food chain restaurant?

“Top 3 right now, mainly cause of easiness for my kids, Chick Fil A, Chipotle, In and Out. Something that I can have something taste good, and keep my family sane until the drive home.”

How do you usually get your groceries? In-store? Online delivery? From where?

“I get up early on Sundays to do the shopping for the week for the family. I usually hit H-E-B, for 95% of the stuff, then for anything FANCY, I have a Whole Foods down the road.”

Dawn Jones is the curator of the V13 imPRESSED Column. Previously known as imPRESSED Indie Music Blog, Jones and her team joined forces with V13 in 2020 to collaborate on an exclusive column on V13's site (imPRESSED) to bring a niche focus to the rapidly evolving indie music genre. Dawn is also the founder of Pressed PR - a boutique PR agency that focuses on PR for independent creatives. Pressed PR’s team works on a variety of campaigns partnering with independent filmmakers, independent artists, and independent labels. Pressed PR’s music clientele has landed in the pages of Billboard, Atwood Magazine, EARMILK, HYPE Magazine, and many others.