What is your signature dish? That is the question Bobby Flay asks each contestant who has come to challenge him to a throwdown. The question really inspired me this morning. A signature dish is a recipe that is like a chef’s fingerprints. It becomes one of those dishes that one could eat in a blind test taste and know who cooked the meal. I have seen it compared to how an artist has his or her own unique style or a writer who has his or her own voice. The dish itself does not need to be unique, but the manner in which it is prepared is. Whatever the dish is, most chefs talk about how they have been working on perfecting their signature dish for years, sometimes decades.
In an issue of Food & Wine magazine, they identified the signature dishes of 10 world-renowned chefs. Wolfgang Puck’s was Pork Schnitzel, Thomas Keller’s was Smoked Salmon Crisps, Daniel Boulud's was Chilled Spring Pea Soup, Mario Batali's was Bucatini all'Amatriciana, Rick Bayless's was Carne Asada with Black Beans, José Andrés's was Paella with Shrimp and Squid, Gale Gand's was Lemon Meringue Pie , John Besh's was August Chopped Salad, Tom Colicchio's was Braised Short Ribs, and Nobu Matsuhisa's was Black Cod with Miso. Each of these chefs had spent years devoted to perfecting this one dish.
I can appreciate the devotion these chefs have to the perfection of each of these dishes. As a budding writer, I work hard on my writing. I have been working on a book for a few years now. Every time I work on it, I am revising it, tweaking it, retesting it, etc. Eventually it will become my “signature dish.” Those who have looked at it or been through it, tell me it represents my authentic voice. As one person said, I would have known it was your writing anyway because it sounds like a conversation with you.
We each have the potential to devote ourselves to the creation of our own spiritual dish, whether that is food, art, music, dance, writing, teaching, etc. So what is your signature dish? Have you made a commitment to devote your time, talent, and resources to the perfection of your gift? For me, as I work on perfecting my “signature dish” I realize I am walking further down this ever evolving path into a deeper relationship with the Divine and the Divine within me. It is through my devotion to the refinement of my gifts and a deeper relationship with the Divine that I am able to perfect my “signature dish.” Are you devoted to working on your signature dish?