By Brandon Hernández
"Our menu is driven by Mother Nature," proclaims William Bradley, the altruistic culinary devotee at the helm of Addison, the widely acclaimed fine dining component of The Grand Del Mar resort. This award-winning chef harbors a devout respect for the edibles that make up his menu. As such, he always goes out of his way to procure the best of the best with an ever-present focus on seasonality.
"Dishes are highly motivated and driven by the quality of ingredients," explains Bradley. "Getting items when they are in season is important in order to keep the clarity of their flavors and maximize the elements each item holds."
Many chefs strive to be the first to get their hands on seasonal provisions, but Bradley prefers to wait awhile, opting for the best of the harvest over the first of the harvest. "Midseason is when fruits and vegetables reach their peak where they've matured and their sugars have developed. And once at their peak, most summer fruits and vegetables remain there for two to two-and-a-half months. Being patient is the key."
Addison guests will benefit from Bradley's mix of patience and timing when he institutes his new summer menu, which will be available from mid-July through early September and feature a plethora of the season's sun-ripened gems. Of them all, Bradley says he is most excited about the exquisite variety of heirloom tomatoes he'll have to work with.
In anticipation of the arrival of these prized items, he is already at work developing dishes, which will spotlight their natural goodness. The first and foremost of those recipes is a chilled gazpacho made solely from black prince heirloom tomatoes garnished in minimal yet poignant fashion with shaved Parmegiano-Reggiano and balsamic vinegar. Aside from utilizing one of Bradley's favorite ingredients, the gazpacho epitomizes his philosophy on summer cuisine.
"It comes down to lighter fare and balancing flavors and colors of fruits and vegetables that are in season," said Bradley. "Also, with all the fresh herbs available at the farmer's markets, the food gets very herbaceous." He cites chive flowers as his favorite herb and peaches as his favorite summer fruit. Look for the latter to find its way onto the Addison dessert menu.
"We'll serve it simply," said Bradley, "perhaps with whipped basil cream and elder flower syrup. The star here is the ingredients."
Other "stars" that will play key roles in the nightly spectacle that is dinner at Addison include such local celebrities as Haas avocados, Carlsbad strawberries, cucumbers, pluots, black Mission figs, white raspberries, radishes and a supporting cast of beautiful assorted lettuces. The majority of the aforementioned victuals will be sourced from trusted nearby producers such as Temecula's famed Crow's Pass and the Santa Monica Farmer's Market.
It is Bradley's core belief that when ingredients are this good, it's best not to over- or out-do them with complicated preparations or an overabundance of accoutrements. "We try not to be pretentious or intimidating. We want the food to be scaled back and inviting."
That inviting atmosphere isn't exclusive to summer. Come autumn, Chef Bradley will welcome guests into the Addison kitchen for an instructional course on fall spices. The event is part of a year-long monthly culinary education series recently instituted by Grand Del Mar executive chef Jason MacLeod. When MacLeod asked Bradley if he would be interested in hosting several classes, he jumped at the chance to provide a close, interactive, hands-on environment in which to demystify culinary techniques and ingredients.
And when asked why he selected fall spices, Bradley answered back with a noble mission statement. "I want to teach students to understand ingredients so they can conquer them! Some people cringe when they hear cinnamon, cardamom and curry, but they don't need to be afraid. You don't have to be aggressive with spices to be effective. A little nutmeg with black truffles over sweetbreads is wonderful."
And whether you visit Addison's awe-inspiring kitchen or its luxurious and utterly immaculate dining room, your experience is sure to be just that - wonderful.
Addison is located inside The Grand Del Mar at 5200 Grand Del Mar Way. The restaurant is open for dinner Tuesday through Sunday from 5:30 to 10 pm. For reservations, call (858) 314-1900 or go to
- Chef Bradley's Fall Spices event will take place on October 13 and admission is $100 per person. Call (858) 314-2000 or visit
for more information or to reserve a spot.