Nelson Freitas wins S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy Award 2023

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Emerging chef Nelson Freitas from Portugal wins the S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy 2023 in Milan. Photo: S.Pellegrino.

Representing the Iberian nations, Nelson Freitas shone among 15 regional finalists, securing the coveted title with his dish, “Crispy Red Mullet, Sea Urchin, and Homemade Black Garlic,” during a two-day grand finale in Milan, Italy.

On the evening of October 5, the winner of the 2023 S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy Award was revealed, marking the conclusion of the fifth edition of the world’s most captivating talent hunt for young culinary talents, curated by the S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy. After two years of intense competition, the grand finale unfolded in Milan, where 15 emerging chefs, representing their respective regions, displayed their culinary expertise, creativity, and their vision for the gastronomic future. Nelson Freitas captured the hearts of the Grand Jury, securing the prestigious S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy 2023 Award.

Hailing from Portugal, Nelson Freitas, in collaboration with his mentor Filipe Carvalho, crafted a remarkable seafood dish, which he called “Crispy Red Mullet, Sea Urchin, and Homemade Black Garlic.” The Grand Jury, comprising world-renowned culinary luminaries Riccardo Camanini, Hélène Darroze, Vicky Lau, Pía León, and Nancy Silverton, lauded Freitas for his refined culinary skills, discerning ingredient choices, and the sheer visual splendor of his creation. The Jury also admired the powerful messages woven into a culinary masterpiece.

Joining the ranks of previous S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy Award winners, such as Jerome Ianmark Calayag (2021), Yasuhiro Fujio (2018), Mitch Lienhard (2016), and Mark Moriarty (2015), Freitas is now poised to elevate his talent and craft, steering the evolution of gastronomy.

Beyond the S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy Award, three complementary accolades were conferred to reflect S.Pellegrino’s conviction in the transformative potential of gastronomy and its positive influence on society through the art of cooking. The Fine Dining Lovers Food for Thought Award, was presented to Ian Goh for his “Heritage Lamb” dish, a culinary creation that most eloquently conveyed his personal narrative, beliefs, and values.

Liu He-Sen, renowned for his signature dish “Homemade Oyster Sauce with Shandong Wagyu,” claimed the Acqua Panna Connection in Gastronomy Award, impeccably balancing tradition and innovation in his culinary masterpiece while honoring the rich culinary heritage of China. And Artur Gomes, renowned for his “Vale das Lobas Celeriac,” was honored with the S.Pellegrino Social Responsibility Award by the Association of Sustainable Restaurants for his compelling message of sustainability embedded within his unique dish.

The S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy was established to unearth the culinary luminaries of tomorrow and provide them with the tools to fully realize their potential through educational opportunities, mentorship, and hands-on experience. S.Pellegrino firmly believes that gastronomy extends beyond kitchens and that the future of the industry is in the hands of emerging talents. The S.Pellegrino Young Chef Academy competition annually attracts hundreds of gifted young chefs from across the globe, all eager to make a meaningful impact.

This year’s edition witnessed a record-breaking number of participants, with 166 chefs emerging from preliminary selections across 15 regions, offering them the invaluable chance to interact with culinary giants and showcase their potential on a global stage.

Stefano Bolognese of San Pellegrino highlighted that “this edition of the Young Chef Academy surpassed our expectations. The remarkable participation of young chefs from diverse corners of the world holds profound significance for us. We take pride in seeing so many talents share S.Pellegrino’s commitment to making the world a better place through food.”