For Freds Executive Chef Mark Strausman, home is where the freshly picked produce is. Which is why he feels as comfortable scouting fresh ingredients in the Midwest’s most food-crazed metropolis, Chicago, as he does in Los Angeles and New York. We caught up with Mark on a recent trip to the Windy City’s Green City Market, where we learned that taste is just one factor when putting together a mouth-watering menu.

Scroll on to discover a few tips and tricks from the pro himself, as well as the inspiration behind the dishes at Freds. Summer has never tasted so sweet.

Mark at the market: Chicago “While it’s a good idea to bring a shopping list, it’s equally important to keep an open mind. The best piece of advice I can give food lovers is to shop with your eyes. Let your senses decide your ingredients. Just look at the vibrant reds of this seasonal rhubarb!”

Mark at the market: Chicago“My favorite summer ingredient is—and always will be—ripe heirloom tomatoes. It’s probably pretty obvious, because I use them in about half of Freds’ dishes. My love for the ingredient began at a young age. I’d eat them with local olive oil and freshly chopped onion at my close friend François’ parent’s home in Provence. One bite always takes me back to my summers in France as a child.”

Mark at the market: Chicago“When creating Freds’ menus, I try to be regionally centric. I use these gorgeous green asparagus in the frittata. Local eggs, mushroom, and fresh parmesan top off the dish for the perfect breakfast.”

Mark at the market: Chicago“There’s nothing like a husk of Midwest corn. These purple beauties are perfect for popping. Just put them over the stove and listen—sweet sound of summer corn.”

Mark at the market: Chicago“Root vegetables like these radishes are a great finishing touch to any salad. They provide a necessary texture and crunch—not to mention a delicious crisp, almost peppery, flavor. And that color? Magenta looks good against any shade of green.”

Mark at market: Chicago“The second most important rule in shopping the farmer’s market: bring your own bag—I chose a Barneys shopper, naturally! Save and reuse them, because they’re great for carrying produce.”

Mark at the market: Chicago“Laying out all of my fresh ingredients after a successful trip has to be one of my favorite feelings.”

Mark at the market: Chicago“Grilled asparagus with some fresh chopped spring onion, a little olive oil, salt, and pepper is a quick and easy recipe that really lets the veggie shine.”

Freds Summer Salad

Freds’ Summer Salad
with Local, Artisanal Alpine-Style Cheese

Salad

2 heads Bibb or butter lettuce, washed and well-dried
2 small heads red leaf lettuce, washed and well-dried
2 bunches fresh asparagus, trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces, blanched and chilled
1 cup fresh shelled English peas, blanched and chilled
1 cup peeled fava beans, blanched and chilled
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup sliced radishes
½ cup shredded Arethusa Farm Dairy Crybaby cheese*

Dressing

(This recipe makes more dressing than you’ll need for this salad, so you’ll have some left over. It’s a basic vinaigrette that can be used on any type of green salad. Store it in the fridge for up to ten days.)

1 medium spring bulb onion, trimmed of its stalk and peeled
½ cup Dijon mustard
¼ cup red or white wine vinegar
4 tablespoons kosher pickle juice
¾ – 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper

Grate the onion and place in the bowl of a food processor. Add all ingredients except the olive oil, salt and pepper and slowly blend until everything is well mixed. While the food processor is still churning, slowly drizzle in the oil in a steady stream until the dressing is thick and emulsified. Add salt and pepper and adjust seasoning according to your taste. Set aside while you compose the salad.

Place the lettuce and green vegetables in a large wooden bowl and toss lightly together. Add the tomatoes and drizzle with dressing to your taste. Toss lightly again. Sprinkle the grated cheese over the top and serve immediately.

**Arethusa Farm Dairy, located in Litchfield, Connecticut, produces some of my favorite local cheeses. Their products can be purchased in various places around the NYC area, but if you can’t find their Crybaby, you can substitute any Alpine-style cheese.

Reserve a table online at Freds Beverly Hills, Freds Chicago, or Freds Madison Avenue.