Mitch Lienhard named as the best Young Chef in the world.


Following an impressive finals round and remarkable Grand Finale event in Milan, American Mitch Lienhard representing the United States has been crowned S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2016. 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.

“It’s really exciting,” Lienhard said, commenting on his big win. “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 n°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.

Nearly ten months since the launch of the international competition’s second edition in January 2016, which has seen participation from more than 3,000 talented Young Chefs from twenty different geographic regions worldwide, S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2016 has come to a close. In order to compete in this extraordinary global event, the Young Chefs and their signature dishes had to pass several highly-selective preliminary rounds, starting with an initial screening by ALMA – the world’s leading international educational and training centre for Italian Cuisine ( – and followed by the regional finals, during which the chefs finished first among nine other talented local contenders.  Applicants had initially submitted their applications, together with their signature dishes, on

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.

Thanks to the invaluable partnership with ALMA, S.Pellegrino was able to successfully carry out its second edition of the S.Pellegrino Young Chef global talent search.

“Once again we’re proudly part of this international contest that makes Italy the center of the excellence – says Andrea Sinigaglia, ALMA general manager – the same excellence that ALMA chase through the education of its students and the relationship with big partners as S.Pellegrino, and that will mark the professional future of all these Young Chefs. Our chefs and teachers – more than 20 involved in the project – were really excited to be part of the selection and the organization of the event, from ingredients to the equipment, which is always a big challenge, consistent with ALMA’s mission.”

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.”, the online magazine for food enthusiasts proudly endorsed by S.Pellegrino and Acqua Panna, provided, and will continue to provide, followers and food-enthusiasts around the world continuous exclusive content on the competition, including interviews, information on the Young Chefs’ signature dishes and other details on the finalists and the Grand Finale in Milan.

The names of all winners at S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2016 are as follows:

  • S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2016:  Mitch Lienhard from the United States
  • Acqua Panna Contemporary Tradition Award: Alessandro Salvatore Raspisarda from Italy
  • Inspiring Message Award by S.Pellegrino: Daniel Nates from Mexico

Special thanks to: Nespresso, Electrolux, Cantine Ferrari, Giblor’s, Mauviel 1830, Poltrona Frau.

The complete press kit with bios of the Young Chefs, mentors, jury and all the pictures taken during the Grand Finale event are available in the Media Room, Password: SPYC2016  (all capital letters).

For photos and footage from the event: search hashtag, #SPYoungChef 



Any young chef in the world can submit their application together with their signature dish at The chefs must be no older than 30 and are required to have experience of at least one year working in a restaurant as a chef, sous chef or chef de partie. The complete list of requirements will be available on the website.


All candidates will be divided according to their geographic origin, representing 20 regions total*. ALMA, the world’s leading international educational and training centre for Italian Cuisine (, will then select from the online applications the first 10 finalists for each region, according to five Golden Rules: ingredients, skills, genius, beauty, and message.

  • INGREDIENTS: Successfully selecting the best of what the market has to offer with regards to quality, freshness and uniqueness.
  • SKILLS: Successfully handling and transforming raw materials into a finished dish that respects its original essence.
  • GENIUS: Successfully exploring inedited, inspiring, unexpected prospects/outlooks, connected with fine dining culture with a personal and contemporary style, while maintaining a perfect balance of tastes and shapes.
  • BEAUTY: Dish presentation is part of the charm.
  • MESSAGE: Successfully communicating a clear message through work and personal vision.

PHASE THREE: LOCAL CHALLENGES – May 1 – August 15, 2016

The 10 finalists of each area will have to compete during a local event: each region will have a jury composed by at least independent famous chefs that will taste the signature dishes of the finalists and choose the best one, always according to the 5 Golden Rules.  By the end of August the 20 best young chefs from all the regions of the initiative will be announced.


In October in Milan, S.Pellegrino will host the final event to celebrate the best young chefs who have competed. An international jury of famous chefs will award the S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2016.