This article is part of THNK VIEWS. We bridge theory and practice on organizing imagination and innovation by extracting key implications and offering new insights to innovation practitioners from a rich database of research papers. This article is based on the research paper Creative Hot Spots: A Network Analysis of German Michelin-Starred Chefs by Florian Aubke.
Chefs who work in the haute cuisine world of Michelin-starred restaurants boast outstanding talent and craftsmanship. Is there a link between these restaurants and budding culinary innovation? There appears to be one, as every chef listed in the “Most Prominent Innovators” works in the kitchen of a starred restaurant. Does working at a Michelin Star eatery – with its corresponding social environment – directly relate to innovation creation? In a recent study, Florian Aubke tracks the career paths of several Michelin-starred chefs, exploring the role of these restaurants on creativity and innovation. We extract some key lessons, stretching far beyond the kitchen, and investigate the role of any social environment on nurturing creativity and innovation.
Alvin Leung, owner of BO Innovation restaurant in Hong Kong, currently holds the top spot of Best Emerging Chef, a renowned title in the haute cuisine industry. Born in London and raised in Toronto, Leung never attended a culinary institute. Instead, he obtained a degree in engineering, adding an “interesting specificity to his aesthetics”, allowing him to reinvent Chinese cuisine through reverse engineering. As he pursued his culinary path, Leung received training from three of the greatest chefs alive today: Ferran Adrià, Heston Blumenthal, and Joël Robuchon. Often described as a young iconoclast, he labels his dishes “x-treme Chinese cuisine”. In other words: Great Technical Skills + Tradition + New Products = Alvin Leung.