Mitch Lienhard is the San Pellegrino Young Chef of the Year

This time last year, Irish flags were flying high with Mark Moriarty named as the San Pellegrino Young Chef 2015 winner.

Off the back of that he had a pretty busy year creating and delivering pop-up restaurants in Paris, Sydney, Singapore, Moscow, Cape Town, Hong Kong (as well as an appearance closer to home at Savour Kilkenny), but at the weekend it was back to Milan to hand the crown over to USA’s Mitch Lienhard.

With his winning signature dish, “roasted duck with spiced orange and yam”, and counsel from assigned Mentor Chef Dominique Crenn, Lienhard emerged among the competing twenty finalists from across the globe as the best Young Chef in the world. The signature dish (pictured below) was described by Leinhard as a reminder of his home state of Michigan, smelling of burning leaves and maple.

Whether or not he embarks on the globe-trotting path doesn’t matter so much – what is more likely is that Lienhard’s name will be one to keep a firm eye on heading through 2017.

Mitch Lienhard's signature dish of roasted duck with spiced orange and yam
Mitch Lienhard’s signature dish of roasted duck with spiced orange and yam

Applications began back in January of this year with chefs and dishes going through rigorous checks and scrutiny through the spring, a period of local challenges during the summer months before 20 chefs head to the grand final in Milan for mid-October.

Seven judges – David Higgs, Carlo Cracco, Gaggan Anand, Elena Arzak, Mauro Colagreco, Wylie Dufresne and Roberta Sudbrack – named on Lienhard this year’s best chef, the extensive evaluation process based on the criteria of the five ‘golden rules’ of ingredients, skills, genius, beauty and message.

This year’s Grand Finale ceremony also included the awarding of two additional prizes. To celebrate the dish that best presents traditional elements in a contemporary way, the Acqua Panna Contemporary Tradition Award was given to Italian Alessandro Salvatore Raspisarda representing Italy. Additionally, for the first time, an award voted by the public for the most inspiring dish concept, the Inspiring Message Award by S.Pellegrino, was presented to winner Daniel Nates from Mexico, representing Latin America.

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Ken McGuire

Broadcaster and sports writer at KCLR96FM; digital media head with a production eye on theatre, film and video; lover of all things food and music. Currently working on his Brazilian jiu-jitsu game.

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