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Cambridge chef competes in international San Pellegrino Young Chef Academy Competition

A woman and a man, who is holding an award, in chef jackets standing in front of a blue background.
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A young chef, based in Cambridge, competed in the prestigious San Pellegrino Young Chef Academy Competition 2022-2023.

Marcus Clayton took part in the two-year competition, culminating in 15 of the most promising young chefs in the world competing at the Grand Finale in Milan on 4th and 5th October.

The 27-year-old, who started washing up in kitchens at the age of 14, currently works at farm-to-table restaurant, Vanderlyle in Cambridge. He was offered this role thanks to him winning the San Pellegrino Young Chef Academy UK Regional Final in October last year, following rounds of competitive cooking. 

Marcus led with his signature vegetarian dish of celeriac, apple and mushroom, a recipe he has been perfecting for years during the finals but lost out to Nelson Freitas, representing the Iberian countries, who was crowned the overall champion. 

A white plate with a vegetarian meal on it, with a smaller plate, and a dipping sauce dish, sitting on a black table.


During the process, the young competitors, mentored by world-renowned chefs have been encouraged to bring their unique technical skills, creativity, vision, and dreams to the table, to support the evolution of gastronomy and to make the world a better place through food. San Pellegrino Young Chef Academy is a global community nurturing young talent and promoting responsibility, sustainability and inclusivity in fine food culture.

Marcus Clayton said: “The entire San Pellegrino Young Chef Academy competition was truly a great experience, and I was delighted to represent the UK at the Grand Finale. It was a fantastic opportunity to not only present my signature dish to the esteemed Grand Jury in Milan, but also to meet young chefs from all over the world and inspire each other. I’m particularly grateful to my mentor, Michelin-starred chef Lisa Goodwin-Allen who helped me throughout the contest.”

Being a finalist means that a new world of opportunities and connections may open to Marcus, allowing his career to progress further.

The Grand Finale coincided with a new edition of the San Pellegrino Young Chef Academy The Forum, an exclusive event dedicated to shaping the future of gastronomy. This year's focus was human aspects in work environments and industry culture, including diversity, equity, and inclusion. 

Pictured (l-r): Michelin-starred chef Lisa Goodwin-Allen and finalist Marcus Clayton.