A fun Q&A with some of the state’s up-and-coming chefs as well as culinary superstars.

Photography by Meredith Mashburn

WILLIAM LYLE (Online Exclusive)

chef at Eleven at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

Hometown: Nottingham, New Hampshire.

Are you a formally trained chef or an on-the-job-trained cook? On the job, however, I did earn a degree in management from the Sam Walton School of Business, which gave me many of the tools needed to operate a restaurant.

Where were you trained? I worked in quite a few kitchens through college, but I credit Joe Fennel and Chef Chrissy at Bordino’s with training me the “correct way”

How many years have you worked in the food industry? 12.

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What or who inspired you to become a chef/cook? Travel. My father’s from the U.K. and my mother flew internationally for Trans World Airlines, so I spent my childhood travelling and experiencing different cultures through cuisine.

What was the first item or meal you prepared? Chicken schnitzel with lemon; it was as close to fried food as we were allowed growing up, so I made it all the time.

What is your favorite meal to prepare? Indian food — I love the variety of flavors and I believe meals should be eaten family style whenever possible.

What is your favorite meal? Roasted leg of lamb with mint sauce, Yorkshire pudding, root mash, roast potatoes and Brussels sprouts. Very specific…

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What is your favorite meal to eat out? Taquerias in Arkansas, Chinese in the city and burgers in between.

What is your favorite junk food? Honey roasted peanuts.

What is your favorite type of cuisine? Indian, especially South Indian.

What is your favorite utensil, gadget or piece of equipment? The soup spoon — working the line is my favorite part of the day, and a properly prepped sautée doesn’t require many more tools than a nine pan full of soup spoons.

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Where do you find new recipes? My inspiration comes from eating other people’s food, good or bad. I can find one simple element of a dish that is interesting to me and create an entirely new dish based on it.

For whom would you most like to prepare a meal? All of my grandparents at one table. Thankfully, I am still able to cook for my Nana who lives in Bella Vista.

Music or silence? Music for prep, silence for service.

Bake or nah? I enjoy it, but I always have a well-trained pastry chef employed.

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Beer, wine or cocktail? Beer right after work, wine with dinner and bourbon for everything else.

Do you cook at home? Yes, mostly from the grill to avoid unnecessary cleaning.

What food or meal do you wish you’d invented? The quesalupa, that took balls. Nice job, Taco Bell.

What food trends do you like or hate the most? I hate when something is referred to as a trend when it’s not. Farm to table, edible responsibility, slow food … these names may be trendy, but the meaning is not.


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