As the lone man in a house full of women, Pat Neely gets voted down a lot-on vacations, meals, TV channels. The Memphis chef, who hosts Down Home With the Neelys with his wife, Gina, recalls wanting to go to Niagara Falls on a family vacation one summer, only to end up at the Mall of America. Teenage daughters!
Father's Day is usually Pat's chance to get his way – "it's the one day a year we don't tease him or pick on him," Gina jokes. But last year, Father's Day was bittersweet: Pat and Gina had to leave behind daughters Spenser, now 20, and Shelbi, 14, to start taping their new travel series, Road Tasted With the Neelys. "I had shades on so Gina couldn't see, but there were tears in my eyes when we pulled out of the driveway," Pat says.
This year, to make up for last, Gina and the girls are taking over the backyard grill and making a special Father's Day brunch. Given a choice between eating out or in on his big day, Pat would always pick a meal at home.
"I love being treated special, and they always do it," he says. Pat admits that he gets sentimental. "Having daughters, there's nothing like it. My mama always said, 'You only get one chance to raise your children.' I look forward to the day when they start their own families. I hope I've done my job, setting an example of what a man should be, so they don't marry knuckleheads. And you can quote me on that. Hopefully they'll read it."
Photos by Miki Duisterhof