Ahead of his five-course Secret Supper coming to Don Giovanni this February, we sat down with Jean Christophe Novelli for a chat about Michelin Stars, local restaurants and why he's loved working with Manchester's favourite Italian.
So, you have earnt yourself multi-Michelin stars- what did it feel like to earn your first one?
I received my first star back in 1991 when I was working as Chef Patron Gordleton Mill, New Forest in Hampshire. It was such a fantastic restaurant that was surrounded by incredible local ingredients- especially the fish, the local fish from the British Shores it was just beautiful….
I guess it is nearly as exciting as having your first child. I was a lot more excited for my staff and everyone who believed in us. It was nice to be recognised by a serious organisation which is now respected worldwide.
Do you have an opinion on Manchester’s lack of Michelin stars?
There are some really fantastic restaurants here in Manchester that have really stood the test of time. Like Nutters in North Manchester which has exquisite food and then Greens in Didsbury by Simon Rimmer- I really do enjoy eating there. Out of many, these 2 are my favourites, they both offer impeccable service but I am always on the lookout.
To be able to open a restaurant in Manchester is a star in its own right, such a fantastic achievement and a great reference to be in such an iconic city.
When and how did you first get involved with Don Giovanni?
I started working with Don Giovanni in April 2016.
I think Don Giovanni is such a fantastic restaurant with a highly professional elegant front of house. It is so beautiful and bright with lots of natural light, the music is fantastic and the food is not too overt- it is great, proper Italian Food cooked correctly. The restaurant is a showcase which people want to be seen in. Don Giovanni is owned by an extremely hands-on, well respected and experienced family with high expectations which has led to success.
You have a dinner at Don Giovanni at the beginning of Feb- can you tell me a little bit about it?
The 5-course secret supper is being held on the 18th February 2018. Myself and my assistant Chef Mike Harrison, Who is fantastically talented, have been working hard on the dishes with the head chef. As per the title, I cannot give too much away but once again this will be a fantastic event.
Tell me about your cookery school. Any chance of setting one up here in Manchester?
Yes, I would love to open a Novelli Academy in Manchester. Fantastic produce from land and sea. We do have a lot of people coming from Manchester to my home in the beautiful countryside of Hertfordshire. Although I am fairly selective when It comes to partnerships I am always open to new exciting ideas.
The Novelli Academy Cookery School has been a great success for the last 14 years. We are now in a position to expand our proven concept.
What are your plans for the coming year? We hear that you are working with Paul Hollywood’s agent- is that correct?
Yes, I am working with Yellow Poppy Media after being introduced by Paul. Paul and many other people have been very kind and supportive of me especially during my extremely difficult time last year. I am planning to open my first restaurant in Northern Ireland. “Novelli at City Quays” is going to be in Belfast In the Spring, it is going to be a 125 seat restaurant, so about the same size as Don Giovanni. So I am very excited for that.
Secret Supper with Jean-Christophe Novelli,
Sunday 18th February, 7-11pm. Tickets start £50pp.
Don Giovanni, Peter House, 1-2 Oxford St, Manchester M1 5AN
0161 228 2482