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on Tue, 23 May 2017
The celebrity chef will be showcasing his culinary skills with mouth-watering demonstrations when a popular event returns next month. Coventry’s Food and Drink Festival will be back with a bang for 2017, with celebrity chef Jean-Christope Novelli giving a number of special demonstrations throughout the weekend.
Organised by Lead Event Management and supported by Coventry Business Improvement District (BID), the event will take place in Broadgate from 9-11 June, with Novelli appearing on the Saturday and Sunday. Here's what he had to say:
Jean-Christophe Novelli, a massive thank you for joining us for Coventry’s Food & Drink Festival. Is this your first time in Coventry?
I am absolutely delighted to be joining the festival – thank you for inviting me! I have actually been to Coventry and the surrounding area on many occasions, and I have a number of suppliers based in the West Midlands.
This is the second year the event is happening, and it’s even bigger than last year with more than 50 food and drink traders attending. This is the first year we’ve had the Coventry BID Kitchen Demo stage – what can visitors expect from it?
The demo stage will be both informative and entertaining. Festival visitors will have the chance to learn some useful tips and to see local produce being used to make some wonderful dishes.
You’re a pro when it comes to live cookery demonstrations and food festivals. What is it that you love about events like Coventry Food & Drink Festival?
I really get a buzz from sharing my tips and interacting with people through my live cookery demonstrations – with the local chefs, the local people and with visitors to Coventry. I also love learning about local produce by talking with local producers and retailers.
Where did this love for food and cooking first come from?
It was my Mum who first inspired me to cook. I was lucky to witness her values for great traditional dishes from an early age and by the time I was eight-years-old I knew that I would be a chef.
What’s your signature menu when hosting a dinner party for friends?
While I have many signature dishes, what I really enjoy is to improvise and create something new. For example, I recently created the following menu for my guests at the Novelli Academy:
Mushroom Pancakes with Blue Cheese Sauce
Mixed Seafood baked in Scallop Shells with Vanilla Ratatouille
Chicken Gigolette with Chorizo Tapenade
Strawberry Tarte Tatin with Black Pepper
Some people find cooking an overwhelming thought… what top tips do you have for making it a more manageable experience?
It helps to be yourself – to express yourself without trying to impress. Cook together with your friends and family, if possible, and always respect your produce.
If you would like to book a course at the Novelli Academy, or buy a Gift Voucher for someone, please use the Promotional Code FESTIVAL20* to receive a 20% discount. *For a limited time only.
What has been your biggest challenge in the kitchen?
Luckily for me, I have been challenged on many occasions! The one that was the most unexpectedly frightening was the first time that I cooked for my Mum in my restaurant in England.
With successful restaurants under your belt, why did you decide to set up your cookery school?
Like many chefs I know, I did not realise for some time that I was also a good teacher. I am very fortunate to have a beautiful home where I can share my passion for healthy cooking and interact more closely with my guests.
Do you think that street food is playing its part in bringing great quality food to the masses?
Yes, very much so. The only problem is that there are not enough of them about! These people are the real Ready-Steady Cooks of today – always making something wonderful with whatever local produce they have. After 35 years in the UK, I have seen the emphasis on local produce growing very quickly over the last five years.
Coventry is bidding to be the City of Culture 2021 – how important do you think a city centre’s food offering is to its overall attractiveness?
A good variety of local cuisines will undoubtedly encourage more people to spend more time in the city. Good city-centre restaurants act as great ambassadors for the city and its local producers – they really put it on the map!
Coventry Food and Drink Festival runs in Coventry City Centre from Friday 9 until Sunday 11 June.