“Throughout my career, I’ve made several versions of bouillabaisse,” says Serge Devesa, Executive Chef of The Willard InterContinental Hotel. “But the one that stands out is a special Marseille-inspired recipe I created for a VIP guest this year.” Reworking the Provençal fish stew with the goal to impress the hotel guest and his wife, Devesa started with fish bones, then added tomato, celery, thyme and garlic. “I add a good amount of saffron, anise seed and Pernod,” he says. “The key is to add each element over time so that nothing gets overcooked, and the flavors meld slowly together,” he explains. Devesa adds branzino, monkfish, halibut and red snapper, in addition to jumbo shrimp, Manila clams and Prince Edward Island mussels, updating the traditional Mediterranean seafood. Near the end, chopped potatoes and poached baby fennel complete the stew. The final product is plated with crostini smeared with saffron aïoli and garlic. “The guests were so impressed they asked to be escorted into the kitchen to thank me personally for it,” he says.