French chef and ex-Platt at food festival 2012

If it’s award winners and celebrity chefs that float your boat when it comes to cookery courses then you could be in worse places than Accrington in a fortnight’s time for the Lancashire Food Festival 2012.

Over the weekend of 14th and 15th April Accrington Town Hall will pay homage to everything tip top about from food from up t’North, including the chance to see what all the fuss is with The Saddleworth Cheese Co and why Sean Wilson is now hanging about with cheese buffs rather than buff cheeses on The Street after 21 years as the hapless Martin Platt on Corrie.

No disrespect to David’s on-screen step-dad as was, but the big cheese headlining the festival on Sunday 15th is celebrated chef Jean-Christophe Novelli (the good lady wife is already gaga with anticipation of putting her flour in his hands) of television fame, not to mention his business empire which incorporates cookery schools and exclusive restaurants, which helped launch his career to earn him the nickname of the UK’s ‘favourite French Chef’.

Jean-Christophe’s career is exceptional. After leaving his native France in 1983 to make the short trip across La Manche, he spent a year as head chef of The Maltsters, a public house ran by Keith Floyd; Jean-Christophe took a hold of the reins whilst Keith was off shooting his TV shows, a path that the French chef would follow himself in years to come.

It wasn’t until thirteen years after his arrival on our shores that he would open his first London restaurant in Clerkenwell, Maison Nouvelli, swiftly followed by another three in the capital, culminating in Les Saveurs in Mayfair. Although making the UK his base over the last three decades, Jean-Christophe hasn’t neglected his home nation, France, on his way to an amazing four Michelin Stars and 5 AA Rosettes for quality establishments.

It is perhaps his masterclasses that keep everything fresh for the much-travelled chef; in his own words, they are his home, heart and life. Many of his cookery courses are demonstrations, but there hands-on events, too. The full list of cookery masterclasses is available at his personal website, where you can browse through cooking courses such as a Taste of the Med, drawing on locally-bred ingredients that give the dishes their unique flavour.

No doubt there’ll be much more at the Food Festival next month and he is fitting in a quick half-an-hour book-signing alongside his other duties, but the website does advise patience as they expect a bit more of a queue for the chef who became a celebrity through his French plaits, rather than the celebrity Platt who became a chef through his fromage.

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