Chef – Questions are the answer

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

Out of personal experience, those Executive chefs feeling stuck in their current position blame the lack of accessible thinking time for dealing with endless short-term challenges.

Henry Ford said, “Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it.”

And if you think that you are a smart thinker, then I encourage you to think again – because thinking is the greatest asset in your career, business and life itself.

If you possess great critical thinking, you can handle any challenge. You are able to adapt to the ever-changing hospitality environment and stay innovative in your field. AND it is this quality that identifies you as a leader and separates you from the followers. This will give you endless career opportunities around the globe, since hospitality struggles to find this type of professionals.

First things first. Before we explore the importance of critical thinking further, let’s define “thinking”. In my opinion, thinking is nothing but asking yourself questions (to proof my point; you are probably doing it right this moment… “Is that true?” “If that’s the case, what does that mean?”). And this statement suggests that…

…the quality of your career or personal life is determined by the quality of the questions you ask yourself!

The quality of your thinking is directly linked to what you choose to focus on (be it either the problem or be it the solution).

Focus on the Problem: ‘Why’ questions

The WHY questions put you into victim mode and simply justifies why things are the way they are. You are looking for an excuse or for somebody to blame (Chef – Who do you blame?). So nothing will ever change! This way of thinking actually creates and strengthens the identity you don’t want to have or be, which is the Victim! For example: “WHY me?” “WHY is it always me who gets to work the graveyard shift?


Focus on the Solution: ‘How’ & ‘What’ questions

The HOW and WHAT questions are of high quality, because those questions provide you with solutions to your challenges. They will move you into Victory mode! For example: “HOW can I overcome this challenge?” and “WHAT do I need to learn about myself to be able to change the situation?” and therefore “WHAT do I need to do next?

The thinking quality separates the followers who are caught up in battling the moment from the leaders who calmly navigate their way through the challenges and find solutions and make things work for them.


Are you looking for educational resources tailored to Executive chefs and their kitchen brigade? Then check out our online education & training solutions here.

Let’s face it; everything we experience originally started with a thought.

I realise that critical thinking is not easy. You can tell that it’s not by how many people jump on “band wagons of popular opinion” or are fence sitters (aren’t the past few years in Australian politic the best example of that?). These people would rather not think for themselves. Even if they were aware of their foolish decisions, they would rather fit in and “belong” to a team or brigade than standing up for the cause and the health of the business.

I’m not naïve and assume you will change your mind because of a blog post. Then again, maybe I am? Because if you want to become a true leader and have a successful career, you need Critical Thinking. You need to stand out from the crowd by delivering solutions for your brigade and hospitality business, and leading them toward success.

Remember: Businesses want results. They want to increase their profits with more productive teams, lower costs and outstanding leadership from their people. All of which is achieved by critical thinking at the highest level.

“If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.” – Henry Ford



Gaining Trust and Respect Get the Foundation right 3D coverGaining Trust and Respect Plan Ahead 3D coverIf you would like to get more information on this topic and how you can improve your thinking and the critical thinking within your brigade, then download our resources here.

 Check out the interview with Glenn Wright, Executive Chef Hilton South Wharf Melbourne.


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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. I agree with the majority of what has been stated. However, to adopt the critical thinking, you first have to adopt the “Victim thinking”. you need to ask these questions of why. This is part of the process I adopt when meeting a challenge. only after analysing the problem fully, I can then think about my plan of attack in solving the issue. In our current positions, it is difficult to find time to actually sit and focus on any issues. However, what I have found to be a magnificent tool, is to sit at night and reflect on what has happened throughout that day. Sometimes it is for 10 minutes and on occasion hours. It has on occasions brought up issues that may happen and this critical thinking has stopped the issue from evolving. It may not work for all but it certainly does for me.

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