Why Michael Caines Doesn't Want A Signature Dish

Chefs often have a signature dish, one that can help give themselves and their restaurant a specific identity. Acclaimed British chef Michael Caines, however, eschews the signature dish idea, according to Michelin Guide.

After Caines finished his training in the late Bernard Loiseau's kitchen (via Sky News), the chef did not head to London. Rather, he returned to his native Devon County in southwest England and took up the reins of head chef at the upscale Gidleigh Park restaurant, CNN reports. There, Caines reached culinary acclaim with modern European cuisine made with foods local to the region, according to Cuisine Noir Magazine.

The chef has slew of wonderful food choices at his disposable. BBC Good Food explains the southwest area is rich with fertile soil, and the NFU reports that agriculture is the area's main economic driver. Regional foods like Cornish Pasties and Montgomery cheddar cheese as well as local tasty culinary oddities like wallfish (snails) or stargazy pie (a whole fish wrapped in a pastry crust) make the area a culinary destination (via BBC Good Food).

Michael Caines wants to 'keep things evolving'

With this culinary bounty in his backyard, Caines' food is focused on locally sourced ingredients (via Michael Cains Collection). Relais & Châteaux credits the chef's longtime promotion of southwest Britain's bounty with elevating modern British cuisine on the world stage.

While Caines places value on local, seasonal ingredients and sustainable practices in his kitchens, he also recognizes that its important to practice environmental stewardship throughout the entire property. Warm Welcome Magazine reports that his restaurant group no longer offers plastic gift cards. Instead, they offer gift cards made from a durable cardboard. The magazine also notes that Caines swapped out plastic toiletries with refillable bottles at his Lympstone Manor hotel.  

Since Caines' culinary efforts have focused on local food systems, seasonal eating, and sustainability, the idea of a signature dish doesn't seem to be top of mind. In fact, he explains to Michelin Guide, "I like to be creative and keep things evolving throughout the seasons – I wouldn't want to be defined by one dish and always have to keep it on the menu regardless of the time of year." 

So, while this may have kept him from creating a signature dish, the chef has zero regrets.