Mitch Lienhard from the USA was crowned S. Pellegrino Young Chef 2016 at the grand finale of the event in Milan on 15 October.
The final stage of the competition saw 20 of the most talented chefs from across the globe compete for the coveted title, including Gregoire Berger, head chef at Ossiano, Atlantis The Palm, who won the S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2016 regional challenge for the Middle East and Africa.
The winner, Lienhard, who was mentored by chef Dominique Crenn, took first place with his signature dish, roasted duck with spiced orange and yam, which he explained to the jury was a reminder of his home state of Michigan, with the scent of burning leaves and maple. Commenting on the win, he said: “It’s really exciting. I feel like I’ve prepared for this moment, but I don’t feel like I’ve prepared for this moment. I’m ecstatic.”
Lienhard was elected by a jury of seven internationally-acclaimed chefs, known as the “Seven Sages”: David Higgs, Carlo Cracco, Gaggan Anand, Elena Arzak, Mauro Colagreco, Wylie Dufresne and Roberta Sudbrack. The evaluation process was based on the criteria of the five ‘Golden Rules’ of ingredients, skills, genius, beauty and message.
The Young Chef 2016 award ceremony was followed by a gala dinner prepared by Massimo Bottura, whose Osteria Francescana of Modena, Italy, was earlier this year ranked at number one in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list 2016.
The 10-month long competition saw participation from more than 3,000 talented young chefs from 20 geographic regions worldwide.
The chefs and their signature dishes had to pass several preliminary rounds, starting with an initial screening by ALMA, the international educational and training centre for Italian Cuisine (www.alma.scuolacucina.it).
This was followed by regional finals, with 10 chefs from each of the 20 geographical regions competing for a place at the final.
The Young Chef finalists were each assigned a mentor chef, who advised them leading up to the finals on how to improve their signature dishes.