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Every experienced chef would want to create their own dish, a dish that represents them. It should identify the chef.
We in ChefBharath.com bring you an exclusive interview with Chef Saravanan Superiamanim, Malaysian-Born chef of a Tamil-Origin, on signature dishes. With three decades of experience under his belt in Malaysia, he is now the executive chef in Holiday Villa, Doha.Edited Excerpts
How chefs should choose their signature dish?
Being precise and being creative should be the personality of not only the chef but of the dish they would create. To be a chef, it requires a lot of hard work and determination. They should also command a lot of emotional aspects of a stressful work environment. It can also challenge the most physically fit chef.
They can choose this dish based on the nostalgic taste and memory. It should portray these emotions and challenges. Keep trying a special that might make it on an upcoming menu. It should have a taste that many others have not had the privilege to taste. They can choose a cuisine and add the chef’s personal touch to it with the authentic presentation. The chef’s secret recipe should reveal their imagination and experimentation. It should also be up to trend, they should consistently refer to magazines, media and food channels.
When creating a signature dish, what should a chef keep in mind?
The first thing the Chef should keep in mind when creating a signature dish is that it should be a complete package to attract the customer’s palette with taste, looks, and marketable.
When developing the dish, it should show the best of the chef’s ability. The planning of the signature dish should be done meticulously. One should develop a list of ingredients to complete the recipe implementation. These ingredients should be set of those that when put together give uniqueness to it. Utilize the freshest produce of that season and to showcase their artistic talents. Follow the cuisine’s demand for dish directive for implementation. Practice and create a better strategy to standardise and enhance the flavour on the food ranging from, sweet-sour-mild spiced-spicy and spicy-better-fusionase taste and others.
Now that the recipe, method of cooking, and ingredients are confirmed. The Chef should visualize how to plate the dish. After the plating plan, rough sketching on the potential designs should be done.
After these, the next would be for the food tasting. Based on the feedback from these trials, the chef would need to improve the dish and move on to promoting and marketing the dish.
What are the common mistakes upcoming chefs do in creating their signature dish?
The chef has to remember that it’s they who decide what works best regarding taste buds, and it is unnecessary to serve as guides shown in the cookbooks. The next more prominently seen mistake is that after a period, they get overconfident of their Skillset. They should also practice the signature before it goes to testing. In testing, the panel should not just be chefs, but it should have people from various backgrounds. If they do not, it would be a failure in testing.
The chef should take into account the region you serve, so the signature dish would be successful only if you take into account the palette of the region.
Could you please tell us about your dish, your experience in creating your signature dish, the things that you followed and how you choose your signature dish?
Chefs are different than just about every other creative professional, and I try to move forward and listen closely to what my heart has to say, and mind has to capture. Great foods become even more amazing with the right cooking, which was where I had this idea to bring together my experience in Asian and Western cuisine. Keeping in mind the advice had received from chefs I worked with and the hope to fill the tables and make the customers come back again for the meal.
I introduced my signature fusionist dish with a combination of, perfectly sealed lamb shank surface, braised in mild spice lamb jus, embedded on mashed chickpeas, green peas, and Idaho potato, accompanied with fresh greens from the farm with minted saffron little touch of chilli butter and drizzled with own jus, its tantalizing in the expert plating of my owning a dish.
How does one take the signature dish forward and get it copyrighted?
Till now, I talked about creating the dish. Now I will shed some light on developing the content. When I say content, it does not mean the contents of the dish but also the content like photography, write up explaining your dish, and others. It is about the overall content to promote your dish. To create a signature dish is not a single person job, it also involves another qualified professional person to help you promote your dish. You can use a blogger to talk about your dish, you can use YouTube to build your own marketing strategy. Beyond all this to get copyrighted, it should be an innovation with the chef’s touch.
What do you think about the fusion in signature dishes?
Cuisines are defined by their region and its influence in the style of cooking and the ingredients. Some cuisines also see the influence of various others. For instance, in Malaysia, the Indian cuisine is strongly influenced by Tamil Indian Muslim, Kerala, North Indian, Chinese, Malay, and Peranakan cultures, but then they have their own regional differences – from Chinese dialect groups, Malay regions and more. You cannot bring all the cuisines on one plate. But you try a fusion of two cuisines that would go together. This would bring color to the guest’s palette.
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