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California Questionnaire: William Bradley

The chef behind San Diego’s two-Michelin-star Addison shares his favorite ways to explore his home state

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When William Bradley launched the restaurant Addison in 2006, it was meant to showcase French cuisine and wine pairings—but California magic has a way of stealing the show. These days, the restaurant in San Diego’s Carmel Valley describes itself as “California gastronomy:” tasting menus that follow the seasons and incorporate regional ingredients and influences, resulting in delicate and delicious art on a plate.

Certainly, Bradley knows about local influences from his upbringing in San Diego, and has earned praise for his embrace of both French and California cuisine. He’s a four-time James Beard Award nominee and in 2021 Addison earned its second Michelin star—the only restaurant in San Diego to hold that honor. We asked Bradley for his favorite spots to dine, play, and road trip in the Golden State—and here’s what he had to say.

Where do you live in California? San Diego

Why do you live in San Diego? San Diego is my hometown; I was born and raised here and was inspired to become a chef while growing up in the city. San Diego has inspired me in many ways and while I left for a period of time as I was developing my craft, I always knew I'd come back. I returned to open Addison in 2006 and am grateful for the inspiration that the city continues to provide, lending context to what we do at the restaurant and cultivating a sense of connectivity to the surrounding community.

Who or what is your greatest California love? The open road. There's always a sense of possibility in California. That you can ski and surf in the same day. Taste wine in some of the greatest vineyards in the world. Escape into nature but have a culturally rich city center within striking distance. There's always something new to explore and discover.

What is the biggest misperception about Californians? That we all drive convertibles with the top down. It does rain sometimes.  

What is the stereotype that most holds true? We love to talk about being from California. Even Addison is guilty of this; we describe our cuisine at the restaurant as California Gastronomy. We have a California complex.

What is your favorite Golden State splurge? In-N-Out

Time for a road trip—where are you going? Napa. Not just for the wine and culinary scene; I love the drive to Napa. There's something very grounding about it, particularly when taking the 101. It's great family time for me as we make stops along the way, always discovering something new.

If you could decree an official state culinary experience, what would it be? As a San Diegan, eating tacos from a food truck is the definitive answer. You assemble the different salsas, maybe going a little hotter than you should. The agua fresca is essential.  

What does sustainability mean to you? Global warming is the next global pandemic. Our whole ecosystem is under assault and a commitment to sustainable living is essential for its preservation. Sustainability is our collective responsibility.

Where would you go for the ultimate shopping spree in California? TableArt in Los Angeles. They have an impressive selection of tableware and other pieces from artisans around the world.

Best California song? “Californication” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Quintessential California band that got its start in Los Angeles. That entire album was made for a road trip. (In a convertible with the top down.)

How would your California dream day unfold? My dream day moves slow. I'd get up, make breakfast for my family, and then we'd enjoy a full day at the beach. We'd come home, fire up the barbecue, and my wife and I would open a Harlan Estate California Cab. We'd drink a bit more than we should, sitting outside, soaking it all in.

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