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Recipe by William Bradley, executive chef, Addison

Back when I started, I worked in an Italian restaurant in Bonita. I did it for the money. But, eventually, I fell in love with cooking — the ability to express myself in food was something I was in awe of. When I took my first job working for James Boyce in the French system, that’s when I knew I wanted to be a chef.

I worked with Chef Boyce at Mary Elaine’s at the Phoenician in Arizona. That place set the tone for my career, which was to work at the highest level and be the best I could be. There were so many amazing people working at Mary Elaine’s that every day was memorable for me.

Now at Addison, I make sure I surround myself with chefs that are driving towards the same goal: to be the best.

Being a chef isn’t a job but a way of life. There are so many more layers to being a chef than just cooking. You have to be a teacher, a mentor, a leader. I’m responsible for things like making sure the lemons are perfect, and that everyone walking into our restaurant feels welcome.

When it comes to the cooking, it’s all about extracting the flavors. Food is all about taste. We’re caught up in an era where food is such a visual challenge — like, how many things can you put on a plate that don’t make any sense. My philosophy is that it’s all about how it tastes. There is a lot of pressure on chefs these days. But I love it. I love that we’ve come so far with American food.

When I’m not working, my fiancée and I share cooking. We do simple things. Like, we love to do grilled lamb, roasted lemon chicken with rice. My fiancée is half Greek, so we do a

lot of Mediterranean dishes — olive oil, tomato, citrus, salads, and fruit. We use whole foods. This recipe for marinated strawberries is an ideal topping for ice cream and sorbets.

INGREDIENTS

2 cups water

2 cups sugar

4 basil leaves, whole

2 baskets fresh strawberries

HOW TO DO IT

Place water, sugar, and basil leaves in a small pot. Bring mixture to a boil. Remove from heat and cover with plastic wrap. Let liquid cool down and steep for 5 minutes.

Wash the strawberries. Remove green stems and cut berries lengthwise in half. Remove plastic wrap from syrup mixture and discard basil leaves. Add strawberries to syrup mixture and place in a refrigerator for one hour to marinate.

To assemble, spoon one ladle of strawberries and syrup mixture each into four chilled bowls and serve.

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