The S.Pellgrino brand may be best-known in the dining world for its sponsorship of the coveted World’s 50 Best Restaurants list (it gave up naming rights to the event this year but is still a sponsor), but every year, the Italian water brand also celebrates up-and-coming chefs with the unrelated global S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2016 competition.
This year, Mitch Lienhard of Manresa, the three-Michelin-starred restaurant in Los Gatos, California, was chosen to represent the United States in the competition in Milan. Lienhard was crowned the winner, beating out 19 other young competitors from around the world.
"It's really exciting," Lienhard said, commenting on his big win to press. "I feel like I've prepared for this moment, but I don't feel like I've prepared for this moment. I'm ecstatic."
Lienhard’s winning entry was his signature dish, roasted duck with spiced orange and yam — developed with the assistance of his mentor, World’s Best Female Chef 2016 winner Dominique Crenn of San Francisco's Atelier Crenn and Petit Crenn — which he said reminded him of his home state of Michigan. The dish was evaluated by a group of judges known as the “seven sages:” David Higgs (Saxon Boutique Hotel, Villas & Spas in Johannesburg), Carlo Cracco (Ristorante Cracco in Milan), Gaggan Anand (Gaggan in Bangkok), Elena Arzak (Arzak in San Sebastián, Spain), Mauro Colagreco (Mirazur in Menton, France), Wylie Dufresne (the late WD~50 in New York), and Roberta Sudbrack (Restaurante da Roberta Sudbrack in Rio de Janeiro).