Mitch Lienhard, representing the USA, is the winner of S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2016, capping off three days of intense competition in the kitchen.
His dish of Roast duck with spiced oranges and yams wowed the the top international jury of Gaggan Anand, Elena Arzak, Carlo Cracco, Wylie Dufresne, Roberta Sudbrack, David Higgs and Mauro Colagreco, otherwise known as the Seven Sages, on the final evening of the thrilling culinary event in Milan. The dish was a reminder of the chef's home state of Michigan he said, and the smells of burning leaves and maple.
With his jubilant mentor Dominique Crenn and an assembled audience of fellow chefs and food enthusiasts looking on, Lienhard said of his win: "It's crazy, today was such a hard competition and not just in my kitchen," before going on to praise fellow super-finalists Shintaro Awa, representing France and David Andrés Morera, representing Spain and Portugal, telling the latter that his artichoke had "blown my mind."
Lienhard, who cooks at Manresa in Los Gatos, California accepts the baton (or should it be the rolling pin?) from Mark Moriarty, S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2015. Moriarty emphasised the lifelong friendships he had gained as a result of the competition. Watch all the action from days one and two of S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2016.
There were also two additional awards announced at the ceremony in a divine smelling The Mall. The S.Pellegrino Inspiring Message Award, voted for in an online poll by members of the public, went to chef Daniel Nates, representing Latin America, who wanted his dish of Quiltamal to speak of the essence of his home country, Mexico and its environment. The Acqua Panna Contemporary Tradition Award was won by chef Alessandro Rapisarda, representing Italy. His Risotto alla Marinara was praised as a contemporary take on an Italian classic.
Italian TV presenter Alessandro Cattelan brang his characteristic energy to the night, introducing the line-up of all 20 young chefs that had competed during the competition. Stefano Agostini of S.Pellegrino also spoke, giving thanks to all involved and talked about the future of S.Pellegrino: 'Young people are the future and Young Chef allows them to find their professional path and make their dreams come true," he said.
The night will climax with a celebratory gala dinner, cooked by Massimo Bottura, from The World's Best Restuarant Osteria Francescana. The chefs will be able to unwind after months of fierce competition, in which 3000 initial applicants were eventually whittled down to 20 regional finalists, each of whom was then paired with a mentor for the road to Milan.
Congratulations to all the chefs who took part in S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2016.
Update: It seems Adi Hadean, chef mentor for the East Europe finalist Rodrigo Sandor was busy #outofthekitchen during the three-day event too. He managed to grab a handful of moments and record one question interviews with some of the top chefs present, including Normand Laprise, Dominique Crenn, Wyli Dufresne and Davide Oldani. Watch the video below.