Marcus Clayton to represent UK at S. Pellegrino Young Chef 2022-23
Marcus Clayton of the Michelin-starred Hide and Fox has been crowned winner of the S. Pellegrino Young Chef Academy 2022-23 UK competition.
Nine regional finalists prepared their signature dishes at Cord by Le Cordon Bleu on 11 October, which underwent a three-hour judging process by this year's jury: Sally Abe of the Pem; Francesco Mazzei of Sartoria; Claude Bosi of Bibendum; Lisa Goodwin-Allen of Northcote; Skye Gyngell of Spring; and Sat Bains of Sat Bains with Rooms.
An awards ceremony was held at BAFTA Piccadilly in London the following night, hosted by food critic Giles Coren.
Clayton (pictured right) impressed the judges with his winning dish of celeriac, mushroom and apple, which has been in the making for four years.
Speaking to The Caterer after his win, he said: "Celeriac, mushroom and apple was something that I've been playing around with for a while, because it was one of the first recipes I cooked from Tom Kerridge's book, Proper Pub Food. I loved the combination and so I just reworked it. I adapted a lamb sauce recipe with the celeriac dish and Allister helped me a lot. It was good fun."
Allister Barsby (pictured left), Clayton's mentor and chef owner of Hide and Fox, had to close his restaurant for the past two days as a result of the competition.
When asked to give advice to the next generation of chefs, Barsby said: "If you've got a dish like Marcus that you really believe in, the main thing is to believe in what you're doing and give 100% - 110% if you can. Just go for it, you've got nothing to lose."
Clayton, who is currently junior sous chef at the restaurant in Kent, will be representing the UK in the Grand Finale consisting of 14 other regional finalists in Milan later this month. He will work closely with Lisa Goodwin-Allen in the lead-up to the next round.
He added: "[Going to Milan] hasn't sunk in but I'm looking forward to working with Lisa Allen and seeing how the dish can progress.
Giles Coren, who returned to host the evening for the first time since 2017, told The Caterer: "All nine of them can say I was a finalist [of S. Pellegrino] when they go and apply for a job at a bigger restaurant further down the line. They can say I was here. It's an accolade worth having."
Sally Abe added: "It's a prestigious competition to be asked to judge, so I'm really quite honoured. It's been really fantastic to see these young chefs come through with their ideas and their identities and I hope it encourages other young chefs to do the same thing next year."
The S. Pellegrino Young Chef Academy award evaluates the technical skills, creativity and personal beliefs that are demonstrated in the candidate's dish, which forms part of its ongoing mission to support new talent in the industry.