The 2022 winner of the S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy Competition has been announced


After rounds of competitive cooking and outstanding displays of culinary prowess by some of the most talented young chefs in the UK, S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy has recognised Marcus Clayton as the winner of the competition’s regional final at BAFTA earlier this week.

This glamorous ceremony at one of London’s most prestigious member’s clubs saw numerous talented young chefs and food lovers from across the country unite for cocktails, champagne and exquisite canapés – and by canapés I mean bowls of Michelin star -worthy restaurant food.

Hosted by the UK’s most revered brand of sparking water – San Pellegrino, the competition was a chic soiree brimming with fervent foodies all gear to celebrate the UK’s best young chef talent.

Me at BAFTA before I devoured my body weight in canapés

Marcus, who emerged in the competition for his outstanding talent, beating eight other finalists and rising to the top of thousands of applicants around the world, will be participating in the Grand Finale that will take place in Milan in 2023.

The 26-year-old chef lives in the idyllic seaside town of Rye, East Sussex, and works at the Hide and Fox restaurant in Saltwood, Kent. He has been working in kitchens since he was just 14 and went to Sussex Coast College.

Marcus doing what he does best

At the competition final, which took place at CORD in London, Marcus won over the renowned jury, including Sat Bains and Claude Bosi, with his signature dish, Celeriac, Apple and Mushroom. It’s a dish he’s been perfecting over the years and one he chose to put forward to show how joyous vegetables can be. He expressed his immense happiness at having won such an esteemed award;

I am delighted to have won, it’s very surreal and I can’t wait to represent the UK at the grand final. It’s been a great experience so far, especially getting direct feedback from the esteemed judging panel. I’m looking forward to working closely with Lisa (Goodwin-Allen) on my signature dish ahead of the next stage in Milan.”

To help Marcus on his journey to the Grand Finale in Milan, he has been assigned Michelin-starred chef, Lisa-Goodwin Allen, as a mentor who will provide him with guidance on how to improve his signature dish and support him in his preparation for the international finals.

Marcus and Lisa

As with the 2019/21 edition, the current competition also plays host to three additional awards alongside the main prize: the S.Pellegrino Award for Social Responsibility voted for by the Sustainable Restaurant Association which runs the Food Made Good program, the Acqua Panna Award for Connection in Gastronomy voted for by the competition mentors, and the Fine Dining Lovers Food for Thought Award voted for by Fine Dining Lovers readers.

Together with Marcus, who won the opportunity to compete for the S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy Award 2022-23, there are a further three young chef’s were also awarded at the regional final event:

  • S.Pellegrino Award for Social Responsibility – Imogen Parrish and Crab Bisque, Crab and Preserved Lemon Chantilly, Fennel and Tomato Concasse
  • Acqua Panna Award for Connection in Gastronomy – Harry Van Lierop and Growing Up
  • Fine Dining Lovers Community Award – Swann Auffray and Wild Sea Bass, Cherry and Fennel

The regional final event hosted the S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy “Brain Food” Forum, an inspiring exchange of knowledge and ideas between young chefs and some of the greatest chefs in the world, curated by Fine Dining Lovers. Launched for the first time during the Grand Finale of the S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy Competition 2019/2021, it is a global format that offers insights across varying themes with the aim of providing direct access to knowledge from international figures in the hospitality industry.

To stay updated with announcements and news about the exciting initiative that aims to discover and nurture brilliant talents able to push the boundaries of gastronomy, you can visit here and @spyoungchefacademy on Instagram.


Mitra Msaad

Editor in Chief