Chef Novelli visits Balmoral show
TV chef Jean-Christophe Novelli has said he intends to meet as many Northern Ireland food producers as possible this week at the Balmoral Show.
The star will take centre stage in the food pavilion at this year's agricultural showcase hosted by the Royal Ulster Agricultural Society. Mr Novelli, who is soon to open his first restaurant in Belfast, will demonstrate his culinary skills and showcase local ingredients in a Food NI event on Saturday.
It comes as the chef - who launches his first Irish restaurant next year at the £25m Marriott AC Hotel under construction at City Quays in the Belfast Harbour area - pledges to create his classic Mediterranean dishes using the best locally-sourced ingredients.
"Northern Ireland has a tremendous reputation for grass-fed beef, high-quality lamb and pork and superb dairy products. Some of the greatest fish and seafood comes from this part of the world. It's no surprise then that chefs here are producing very innovative, authentic and outstandingly tasty dishes," he said.
"Many Northern Ireland products have also won international acclaim in major awards. There really is an impressive food culture developing here, which we will seek to encourage and promote.
"It makes business and environmental sense to work with local suppliers. I intend to meet as many as I can and to get a better understanding of what they produce and how they create it.
"I look forward to working with local suppliers in creating deliciously different dishes that will attract the attentions of local diners as well as international visitors. I believe we can develop mutually beneficial relationships and that I can help them in creating new product ideas that will help them grow business."
Michele Shirlow, chief executive of Food NI, said: "It's great to have such an internationally recognised and respected chef join us in the Food NI Food Pavilion. He will have opportunities to meet over 100 local producers and to sample the very best of our food and drink."
Mr Novelli is no stranger to Belfast and intends to visit frequently.
"I've also seen dramatic changes in the restaurant scene in the city and the innovation being demonstrated by chefs here," he said. "There's a tremendous passion for quality ingredients and really creative dishes. I must say, I am privileged to be teaming up with such a passionate team at the new Marriott Hotel.
"It's a hugely important and immensely exciting investment, a tremendous opportunity to be part of such a dynamic food scene."