“It's very surreal and I can't wait to represent the UK at the grand finale”

Alex South

Alex South


S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy has announced Marcus Clayton as the winner at the competition’s regional final at BAFTA.

The announcement follows numerous rounds of competitive cooking and outstanding displays of culinary prowess from some of the UK’s most talented young chefs.

Commenting on his win, Marcus said: “I am delighted to have won, it's very surreal and I can't wait to represent the UK at the grand finale. It's been a great experience so far, especially getting direct feedback from the esteemed judging panel.”

Following his win after beating eight other finalists and rising to the top of thousands of applicants around the world, Marcus will go on to participate in the Grand Finale set to take place in Milan next year.

Ahead of 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.

Explaining what it feels like to Lisa mentoring him ahead of the grand finale, Marcus said: “I’m looking forward to working closely with Lisa on my signature dish ahead of the next stage in Milan.”

The 26-year-old chef lives in 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.

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 delicious vegetables can be.

The current competitio 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 programme, 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.

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Alex South

Alex South

Editor 14th October 2022

“It's very surreal and I can't wait to represent the UK at the grand finale”