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Seeking inspiration for a signature dish

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

Hi chefs,

 

I'd like to establish some kind of 'signature dish' for my restaurant besides what the customers have chosen as their favourites. My menu is very small (6-9 mains) and ever-changing with the seasons. For almost 18 months, however, the ribeye steak with a brandy and cream deglace and handcut fries has been a staple on the menu due to popular demand, so it will stay put, but it's not what I consider a good signature dish. For me personally, my gremolata-stuffed and rolled lamb shoulder bears my signature, but it's not for everyone.

 

We get great local lamb and rabbit as well as wild boar, so this could be a starting point. I'm looking for something quick and easy to prepare, somewhat comfort-foody, that doesn't take three frying pans to cook and assemble.

 

Can't wait to hear your ideas!

 

Cheers,

Recky

post #2 of 15

Honestly - you don't create a signature dish,   It creates you.

 

Since your best seller is the rib-eye with brandy and cream you should just fancy it up and make it your signature dish.

----

 


"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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----

 


"Plus, this method makes you look like a complete lunatic. If you care about that sort of thing".  - Dave Arnold

 

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post #3 of 15

A signature dish is a dish you make better than anything else. It's not really something you can premeditatively create. I think perhaps you mean you wish to create a new special?

“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
Oscar Wilde

 

 

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“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
Oscar Wilde

 

 

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post #4 of 15

First of all, your signature dish has to fit with your brand and strengthen it, this dish has to make your restaurant a destination.  This has to deal with you as a chef, your personality, cooking style, location, and your restaurant concept.  Maybe a little more information on your restaurant would help.  At the end of the day it has to be something that you make better than anyone else and that has a different twist on it.

 

“Bringing People Together Through Food”

 

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“Bringing People Together Through Food”

 

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post #5 of 15
I have a hunch, based on the fact that your previous posts show that you have put a lot of thought into what you do, that you already have an idea or two as to what you want to be known for. It can be be hard to to put yourself out there that naked and say this is me on a plate, especially if it doesnt sell as well as meat and potatoes. Maybe what you really want is a way to sell what you think you should be known for?

Then again, a signature dish is often more to do with what the public gloms onto than your own intent. You cannot fight, or control, the audience.

Al
post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by AllanMcPherson View Post

I have a hunch, based on the fact that your previous posts show that you have put a lot of thought into what you do, that you already have an idea or two as to what you want to be known for. It can be be hard to to put yourself out there that naked and say this is me on a plate, especially if it doesnt sell as well as meat and potatoes. Maybe what you really want is a way to sell what you think you should be known for?

Then again, a signature dish is often more to do with what the public gloms onto than your own intent. You cannot fight, or control, the audience.

Al


Well, it's more the farm-to-table concept of my restaurant that I want to be known for (as it's quite unique in this region) than a particular dish. I have been told that every restaurant needs a signature dish, yet I'm not fully convinced of this. If you're a "themed" or ethnic restaurant, yes, your shepherd's pie or meatballs might be your signature items, but I think that a small farm-to-table resto doesn't necessarily need a single dish to represent what it does best. However, it might be interesting to hear what other chefs think constitutes a signature dish, what theirs is and how they arrived at it. I might find I do need one after all - or have one already!

post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pollopicu View Post

A signature dish is a dish you make better than anything else. It's not really something you can premeditatively create. I think perhaps you mean you wish to create a new special?


Actually, I think you can create a signature dish premeditatively! It never comes flying through your door completely out of the blue. You do have to premeditate on it to establish what you as a chef and the restaurant stand for, and develop something from there. It may start as a special, but if it proves to be very popular, you may keep it going and it becomes you signature dish.

post #8 of 15

Heya Recky,

As a Chef, you can certainly focus on a certain dish that sort of "speaks to you",one you like and connect

with, and endeavor to adjust it, tweak it, and perfect it, to the point where it is unlike anyone else's

version of that dish. In my case, it's my chicken cordon bleu... though admitttedly I didnt initially

set out to make it my siggy, or to make ANY signature dish for that matter. Yet I see nothing wrong with

doing so.

However seems to me it would be a difficult thing to come up with for someone else.

post #9 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Recky View Post


Actually, I think you can create a signature dish premeditatively! It never comes flying through your door completely out of the blue. You do have to premeditate on it to establish what you as a chef and the restaurant stand for, and develop something from there. It may start as a special, but if it proves to be very popular, you may keep it going and it becomes you signature dish.


Yes, it could start as a "special", but a signature dish isn't typically primarily prepensed. As Michael noted: "you don't create a signature dish, It creates you."

“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
Oscar Wilde

 

 

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“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
Oscar Wilde

 

 

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post #10 of 15

As I see it signature dishes are more those occasional sparks of brilliance than something planned.

 

Go at each dish as though it's a work of art, craft it and shape it until you have something you'd be proud to serve to [Insert someone you respect a great deal here] . keep doing that for each dish you allow on to your menu and maybe, at some point, you'll serve up a dish that you think is good but your customers think is amazing. It's something people talk about to their friends, maybe even in the local rag if you're lucky, a dish that if you try to take it off the menu you get too many complaints and have to reinstate it. et voilà, you've got yourself a signature dish.

 

I doubt very much that Ferran Adria thought his spherified olives would be a signature, or Blumenthal's snail porridge, they just connected with people I guess.


Edited by wurzel - 4/29/13 at 5:16pm
post #11 of 15

I don't know ... "signature dish" is sorta a special word.  I think I've got maybe a dozen or so "signature dishes".  I consider dishes that people can get somewhere else, but come to me specifically to get, as "signature dishes".  It's the stuff I'm known for making over-the-top.

 

You can get my "signature dishes" at a zillion or so other places.  Mine however, are those that people come to me specifically for.  I would guess that those people are telling me that I make them the best (or maybe just the tolerably cheapest).  

 

As an example I'll use regular ordinary conversation.   "Joe Schmoe makes a fantastic cole-slaw." ... "Yeah, Joe Schmoe's cole-slaw is my favorite." ... "His baked-beans kinda suck ... but his cole-slaw is the best I've ever had.".   I'd be willing to state that cole-slaw is Joe Schmoe's signature dish. 

 

On-the-other-hand ... quite possibly maybe I've just got most likely a stiff thick over-inflated ego. 

post #12 of 15

Thinking your signature is your approach and caring enough to source local.I really believe that a dish or 2 we as chefs are lucky enough to be known for come both from layered thought and spontaneity.

Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
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Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
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post #13 of 15
I think I would start with an entire rabbit if I were you. Great meat with a characteristic flavor, and cheaper than special cuts. pair it up with veg. typical for your area, and make it a signature for you and the region's produce.
Yep, it will be a bit bold..
post #14 of 15

You could also draw inspiration from your earlier childhood food memories and do a take on that.

 

Say you remember from your childhood your grandfather taking you fishing. You would catch the brook trout (or whatever), filet em that night, and cook dusted in cornmeal, pan fried them. Maybe served with thinly sliced potatoes and onions. Melted butter on top. 

 

Or whatever. Maybe your dad took you hunting when you were a kid, and you guys used to make venison sausage and eat it with homemade pickles, or mustard and hoagie buns. 

 

Might be a starting point. 

post #15 of 15
Thread Starter 

Very interesting thoughts! Sounds like everyone has a slightly different definition and thus, approach.

 

I like the idea of drawing inspiration from childhood memories. It reminds you of the fact that cooking should be far more than just food production.

 

I also agree with the notion that you can actually have a dozen or so signature dishes. I think I approach many new dishes as if they might become one (not all, sometimes you just have to give people what they want and what they know - such a dish might actually become a s.d. by accident, to one's dismay...). If they don't sell, they don't live long enough to ever become a signature dish, but at least they have the hypothetical potential.
 

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