Marcus Clayton is the winner of the S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy Competition 2022-23 regional final for the United Kingdom, and will represent the region at the Grand Finale in Milan.
Clayton, of the Michelin-starred Hide and Fox restaurant, presented his dish of 'celeriac, mushroom and apple' at an event at Cord by Le Cordon Bleu, on 11 October, to a jury comprised of chefs Sally Abé,Francesco Mazzei,Claude Bosi,Lisa Goodwin-Allen and Sat Bains.
Celeriac, apple and mushroom by Marcus Clayton
“It's a bit surreal,” said Clayton on receiving the award. “I only expected to cook this dish once. I dig this dish and I'm very pleased the judges like it, especially as it’s vegetarian. I want to push vegetables forward.” Clayton will now join with mentor Lisa Goodwin-Allen, who will help him prepare for the Grand Finale.
Celeriac was also a key ingredient in young chef Harry van Lierop’s dish, ‘Growing Up' - inspired by memories of his grandmother, and of sailing off the coast of Scotland - which won him the Acqua Panna Award for Connection in Gastronomy.
Growing Up, by Harry van Lierop
“It feels amazing,” said van Lierop. “It's the award that’s voted for by the mentors, so it means that my food is appreciated by the chefs. It was an amazing experience to cook for some great, esteemed chefs. Over the last five years, since I started becoming interested in cooking, I've always been interested in simplicity and really highlighting one ingredient, and I think I've been true to myself and from the start I’ve followed my dream and I'm going to continue following my dream. It’s my first competition, so to come away with something is great and I'm going to continue entering competitions and hopefully walk away with some more trophies.”
Chef Imogen Parrish won the S.Pellegrino Award for Social Responsibility, with her very impressive dish ‘crab bisque, crab and preserved lemon Chantilly, fennel and tomato concasse’.
Crab bisque, crab and preserved lemon chantilly, fennel and tomato concasse by Imogen Parrish
“It's amazing to win the award. I was trying to showcase mainly sustainability in the crab [dish],” she said. “That's why I tried to do a whole live crab, using every element. I’ll take a lot from it [the competition]. Obviously, there’s eight great chefs back there.”
The Fine Dining Lovers Food for Thought Award, voted for by Fine Dining Lovers’ readers, and which celebrates a chef’s ability to represent their philosophy in a dish, was awarded to Swann Auffray, for his dish of 'wild sea bass, cherry and fennel’.
Wild sea bass, cherry and fennel by Swann Aufrray
“Very nice, obviously [a] very big surprise because it's with the votes online,” said Auffray. “I don't have a big community on Instagram or anything, so it's a very big surprise for me. It’s good encouragement to go in [a] good direction and continue like that.”