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The contribution of this study is an increased understanding of personal creativity and the innovation process in haute cuisine, a validation of the socio-cultural systems view of creativity and a model that accounts for the socio-cultural dimensions of haute cuisine. In this paper we discuss existing views that conceptualize creativity and innovation in this sector as a sequential developmental process following the principles of operations management. However, based on in-depth interviews with world-renowned chefs, we argue for a systemic rather than sequential developmental process view. The reason for this is that the chefs interviewed understand the ‘creativity part’ of the innovation process as an embodied experience often guided by intuition and the ‘innovation part’ as a process of social evaluation greatly dependent on the perception, knowledge and value judgement of the testers from the leading restaurant guides. The main implications of the findings go beyond the haute cuisine sector and open areas for future research on creativity and intuition more generally.