Jean-Christophe Novelli on Dubai, his career so far and what he thinks about his title as the world's sexist chef. Time Out gets the lowdown.
Jean-Christophe Novelli, dubbed ‘the nation’s favourite French chef’ in the UK, began his career at the age of 14 as a baker in his home town of Arras, Northern France, becoming head private Chef to Elie de Rothschild in Paris before the age of 20. Jean-Christophe’s life changed completely when he arrived in Great Britain in 1983. Jean-Christophe spent a year helping Keith Floyd, taking care of his pub as head chef whilst Keith was filming his famous TV shows.
In 1996, Jean-Christophe opened his first restaurant, Maison Novelli, in London, and several more international restaurants and UK-based gastropubs quickly followed. Over his career Jean-Christophe has accumulated no less than four consecutive Michelin stars.
The Novelli Academy, based in Jean-Christophe’s 14th century Hertfordshire home, opened its doors in 2005 and was voted amongst the top 25 cookery schools in the world within three months. He is also a well-known TV chef, making appearances on popular cookery programmes, including Richard & Judy’s Tender Loving Cooking, and he has just signed a deal for a series called The Chef Academy, which chronicles his experiences of opening a cookery school in LA.
What excites you about the Festival of Taste? It just gets better and better. I have been visiting for a number of years now and it has grown enormously since the first time I attended.
Have you been to Dubai before? Yes, in 2006 for the original Festival of Taste.
What do you think about the food scene in Dubai? It is very varied and versatile. Everyone works very hard to grow their own produce – they are even using areas of the desert to grow food. The commitment to constant improvement is amazing. What will you be doing for the Festival of Taste? I will be cooking a number of dishes, including symphony of seafood with lemongrass and coconut broth, vanilla and anise foam; king scallops baked in their shells with vanilla and tomato piperade with goat’s cheese; avocado mousse with passion fruit jelly and Shetland lobster; and oyster Bavarois with Beluga caviar and croque tomatoes.
Why did you decide to provide these recipes? The recipes I have chosen are a little taster of my new book I am working on, and some feature in my current book, Everyday Novelli.
When did you last cook them, and for whom? I have been regularly creating these in my Novelli Academy Cookery School, in Tea Green, Hertfordshire.