Chef – Are these the modern skills of a Leading Chef?

By Martin Probst, Learning & Development Whiz at Leading Chef Academy

Do you remember the times when the Executive chef felt like ‘god in white’ with the main responsibilities of ordering food, cooking, smoking, screaming, complaining and abusing others?

Luckily these times are definitely gone and the job description of today’s Leading Chefs look completely different. Of course they still need to have culinary skills but that is just the tip of the iceberg of all the requirements of a Leading Chef.

They need many new modern skills if they want to be successful, because chefs became the ‘billboard’ of their hospitality business. Television shows and the media in general have taken chefs out of their kitchen and moved them into the spotlight of the public eye. The paradigm of a Leading Chef has changed over the years and here are some of the modern skills I believe a successful chef must have these days.

A Leading Chef will…

  • Support and guide employees towards a common goal

To ensure time, energy and resources are channeled in the right direction, a leading chef will need to have a clear vision and guidance, otherwise the entire operation / business will just get to the wrong place faster. A Leading Chef will also help the team to turn stumbling blocks into stepping-stones along the way by providing the necessary tools to achieve the outcome.

  • Communicate well and is a person of influence

To guide the team, the Leading Chef needs to be able to articulate the vision clearly. The communication must be open so that any misunderstandings or conflicts can be avoided or resolved during early stages. Remember: Communication is not about what you say – It is about the response you get.

  • Make quick and smart decisions and has excellent self-management skills

The decisions s/he makes today will shape their future as a Leading Chef.

Therefore s/he needs to engage in Critical Thinking to see issues from all different perspectives. This will provide him/her with the key to unlock their intellectual independence as they can see the consequences and therefore have the power to make quick and smart decisions.


Are you looking to improve your Leading Chef skills? Then click here and pick the raisins from the cake by downloading individual units, or get the whole enchilada. It’s entirely up to you and your skill level. 
  • Persevere and has great determination to achieve results

Only having a clear vision is not sufficient to get there. Along the way a Leading Chef will need to demonstrate perseverance and determination to overcome obstacles along the way. S/he needs to have a ‘can do’ attitude, lead by example, motivate the team and continue to pursue excellence.

  • Share success and has great people skills

Interdependence is a higher value than independence. In other words, a Leading Chef will understand that nothing ever achieved is the effort of one person. Therefore it is absolutely essential that success needs to be shared. S/he will reward team achievements rather than individual goals that often create a competitive environment with rivalry where individuals pursue their own personal goals and become selfish rather then the common goals of the team, operation and overall business.

  • Be a great public speaker with a unique brand image

As discussed, chefs are in the spotlight of the public eye. A Leading Chef is therefore aware of his/her unique brand image and has great public speaking skills to articulate the message clearly to others. This will allow him/her to raise the profile and successfully engage with media, potential clients and existing stakeholders.

  • Act as role model and mentor, based on integrity and believes in his/herself as well as the team

A Leading Chef owns a healthy sense of confidence based on skills, knowledge, attitude and experience. S/he has a mindset of curiosity and eagerness to Learn | Evolve | Succeed. S/he has a great understanding of personal strength and limitations and takes 100% responsibility for all actions, inactions and consequences. A Leaning Chef also has a can do attitude and believes to have the power to turn things around if they turn pear shaped.

  • Create more leaders in an environment that encourages learning and staff development

As Tom Peters said: “True leaders don’t create followers they create more leaders”. Leading Chefs invest time and money in their staff, and create a caring and supportive environment where individuals within the team feel recognized, appreciated and respected. This will lead to a motivated team that can smash the budget.

In hospitality, I often get ask: “What if I train them and then they leave?” My answer to that question is: “What if you don’t train them and then they stay?” Our industry underestimates the damage unmotivated and unskilled employees can do to a business in a very short period of time. I guess a better question we need to ask ourselves is: “Do you think you can improve your staff retention and outcomes by investing into your employees, or do you achieve that by squeezing them like lemons?” More on this topic in one of our previous blogs: Chef – Don’t slaughter the goose.

  • Understand how to manage budgets and finances

Although cooking is our passion, a Leading Chef understands how this passion and trade fits into the budget and achieves an essential profit that is required. After all, we are in charge of a commercial kitchen. Understanding the real cost of business and how to generate revenue to cover cost and to produce a profit is a central part of a Leading Chef.

I trust you got some value from this blog and would really appreciate your feedback and thoughts.

  • What do you agree with / what not?
  • What are the skills that I haven’t covered and why do you think they are important?
  • Anything else that you feel is important to share with other chefs around the globe?

Please write your comments in the ‘Leave a reply’ box below…

Culinary regards,
Learning & Development Whiz

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PS: This is what Glenn Wright, Executive Chef Hilton South Wharf Melbourne had to say about our products and services 



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By Martin Probst

In a nutshell, Martin Probst is the Managing Director of LEADING CHEF ACADEMY. He is not interested in teaching you how to suck eggs and is convinced that you are a top banana if it comes to your cooking ability. His mission is to add to your existing kitchen experience a blend of innovative LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT, EMPLOYEE MANAGEMENT & ORGANISATIONAL EFFECTIVENESS skills, so you can taste the success you deserve for all the hard work you put into your career over the years. His vision is to connect modern chefs around the globe and take them to the next level with our online education & training solutions.

1 comment

  1. A very interesting blog, Martin.some points i would like to make:-
    The value of a positive personality
    To be Able to deal with conflict and negotiation with all levels of staff.
    The importance of communication.:- barriers/,cross-cultural differences in communication/ ,use of the grapevine being an active listener/
    Understanding of problems of resistance to changes
    The need to set an appropriate personal standard,the exact opposite to the Ramsey model!! Ethical leadership.
    The need to ask all staff to complete a “Briggs Meyer “personality test in order to determine their strengths
    The need to complete a SWOT analysis.
    Extra support for timid.employees.


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