PurpleBeach Experience 2015
Live postcards from the PurpleBeach Experience 2015
By Richard Davies
Michelin star winning chef Jean-Christophe Novelli stays true to his values
Date Posted: April, 28 2015
Michelin star winning chef, Jean-Christophe Novelli said that his childhood was ‘wealthy in everything except for money’. His mother, who suffered from polio as a child, was the ‘best cook’ and his father the ‘best teacher’.
When he crossed the channel as a young man, his only ambition was to learn English and enjoy a good life. Winning his first Michelin star came as a surprise; when he first heard about it, he thought it was a joke. Only when the crates of champagne arrived that were not on his wine list did he realise it was for real!
Jean-Christophe remains true to the values he learned from a young age. His home life taught him “to be passionate – to learn, respect, be fair, have discipline.” His greatest pleasure is to have a busy restaurant and happy staff. Success means “happiness, keep going, keep busy.”
So how does Jean-Christophe find time to innovate in a busy kitchen? “It is about constantly doing something new to make people come back to you.”
The great culinary heroes in his life are Marco Pierre White - “I thought I was good, but when I met him it was ridiculous - he was amazing”, but also his mother whose cooking still inspires him. Only when he became a professional chef did he realise just how good his mother’s cooking really was.
Jean-Christophe’s experience of National Service as paratrooper inspired his approach to managing people – he resolved that he would never treat people in the way that he was treated. The atmosphere in his kitchen is always fun.
When asked how he feels about how women get ahead in the ‘macho’ kitchen environment Jean-Christophe said he does not believe in ‘dividing people’ for any reason. He has grown up amongst so many great women cooks, as he fondly remembered ‘the first Ready Steady Cook’ when his two Grandmothers competed to prepare dinner for 10-15 people from whatever food was in the house.
If he could eat anything in the world, cooked by anyone, Jean-Christophe would eat his mother’s stuffed tomatoes because they are “annoyingly simple”.