Sig­na­ture dishes are those that proudly rep­re­sent the best efforts of a restau­rant, chef or cook. They reflect a sense of place, ingre­di­ents that work well together or reflect a shared food mem­ory.

We know that Aunt Alice’s potato salad will always be served at Sun­day sup­per or at the church pic­nic. No one can top banana cream pie from XYZ’s famous restau­rant.

The dishes we fondly remem­ber may have cer­tain emo­tional attach­ments. A young per­son going fish­ing with a favorite grand­dad looks for­ward to the hand­made pocket sand­wiches that get packed along for lunch.

Grandmother’s sig­na­ture falafel pita is wholly embraced partly because it tastes so ter­rific. The rest of the clamor is due to the cir­cum­stances in which it was enjoyed — who it was shared with, the expe­ri­ence in which it was eaten, the excite­ment of being out­doors, etc.

Sig­na­ture dishes are con­sis­tent. They are largely fail proof due to rep­e­ti­tion. By mak­ing some­thing over and over again, a per­son gets to labor over a recipe and then own it. Exper­i­ment­ing with that one spe­cial com­po­nent might put a sig­na­ture stamp on it.

Inspired cook­ing or bak­ing demands a cer­tain com­mit­ment. Every­one knows some­one who is an awe­some cook. Almost any­thing they cre­ate or make seems to taste great.

How is it then that oth­ers can­not seem to bake, sauté, roast or grill their way to any type of suc­cess?

There is no valid rea­son why but­ter­milk pan­cakes, crispy Brus­sels Sprouts or parme­san egg­plant shouldn’t turn out just right. Right? There are plenty of win­ning recipes out there, so what gives?

“Sig­na­ture fails” can lead to epic teach­ing moments. Carv­ing out a rep­u­ta­tion wor­thy of high cook­ing acco­lades requires per­sis­tence. Also, some prac­tice and atten­tion to the details.

Review every kitchen fail­ure as a chance for a do over. We don’t get too many of those in life. Make notes for the next time on reduc­ing the liq­uid, shav­ing the beets thin­ner or toss­ing the sweet pota­toes with olive oil and minced herbs.

Adjust­ing and tweak­ing are part and par­cel to cul­ti­vat­ing bet­ter culi­nary skills. Trial and error, fol­lowed by cor­rec­tion and refine­ment, lead to cre­at­ing foods we want to eat again.

There is still time for redemp­tion. Fig­ure out what you want to be known for, even if it means get­ting out of the com­fort lane. Upgrade the pantry and explore those ideas for a truly remark­able dish.

To read the full Mar­ket Report, includ­ing this week’s mar­ket update, see below or click here.
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