Thomas Keller is one of the most decorated chefs in the world. He is the only American chef to win three Michelin stars for two restaurants simultaneously. He owns 13 restaurants, including the legendary French Laundry in Napa Valley and Per Se in New York City.

Keller’s restaurants use the freshest ingredients from the finest producers. Keller is all about superior ingredients, execution and attention to detail.

Ingredients + execution” is his simple equation.

As a bit of a foodie myself, I appreciate these kinds of things. Making a great meal is about starting with the best ingredients.

But the ingredients don’t do it alone. Two cooks using the same exact ingredients may come out with two totally different meals.

The execution is where something special happens. Putting the ingredients together and executing the meal are where the skills of an experienced chef separate him or her from everyone else.

For private investigators, the ingredients we use are the investigative tools—knowledge, ideas, know-how and places to find information—that we have developed over the years.

The execution, however, is the difference.

Taking those ingredients, putting them together into something cohesive and communicating that information to the client are what separate the good investigators from everyone else.

The ingredients part is relatively easy; the execution, though, is the coup de grâce.

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