Mitch Lienhard of the United States Wins S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2016


Following an impressive finals round and remarkable Grand Finale of S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2016 in Milan, the successor to Irish chef Mark Moriarty has been announced. Representing the United States, Mitch Lienhard has taken the crown with his winning signature dish, “roasted duck with spiced orange and yam.”

“It’s really exciting,” Lienhard said, commenting after he emerged among the competing twenty finalists from across the globe to win the title of best Young Chef in the world. “I feel like I’ve prepared for this moment, but I don’t feel like I’ve prepared for this moment. I’m ecstatic.” In his presentation to the Grand Jury, he explained his winning dish was a reminder of his home state of Michigan, smelling of burning leaves and maple.

Mitch Lienhard was elected by a distinguished jury of seven internationally-acclaimed chefs, known as the “Seven Sages”, including David Higgs, Carlo Cracco, Gaggan Anand, Elena Arzak, Mauro Colagreco, Wylie Dufresne and Roberta Sudbrack. The extensive 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 the one-and-only Massimo Bottura, whose Osteria Francescana of Modena, Italy, is the number 1 in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list 2016.


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 ever, an award voted by the public on for the most inspiring dish concept, the “Inspiring Message Award by S.Pellegrino”, was presented to winner Daniel Nates from Mexico, representing Latin America.

The competition took place over ten months, with several preliminary rounds taking place to whittle down from more than 3,000 talented Young Chefs from twenty different geographic regions worldwide to the final twenty who competed in this weekends grand finale.


The Young Chef finalists were not alone on their road to glory, as after the regional finals they were each assigned a “Mentor Chef”, who advised them leading up to the finals on how to improve their signature dishes and help them prepare for the Grand Finale in Milan. Mitch Lienhard was luck enough to take counsel from esteemed Chef Dominique Crenn.

Being crowned S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2016 will offer Mitch Lienhard the extraordinary opportunity to gain worldwide visibility and a significant professional boost, as well as the chance to take part in several of the brand’s events around the world, including but not limited to those related to the Young Chef competition. Commenting on his experience following his big win last year, S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2015, Mark Moriarty said:

“The 2015 edition of S.Pellegrino Young Chef provided me with an invaluable experience, both professionally and personally. Winning the competition was both an honor and privilege, and it has allowed me to gain invaluable experience cooking, networking and learning in a way I could never have done otherwise. I look forward to the next stage of my young career and wish this year’s recipient of the award the very best in the future.”

Lienhard has big shoes to fill after Moriarty’s trailblazing year as Young Chef of the Year 2015. Read the full story of what Mark got up to during his year as Young Chef in his interview with TheTaste here.

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