Belfast Telegraph

Novelli couldn't admit hearing loss

Jean-Christophe Novelli said he has his fiancee to thank for getting back his hearing.

The French chef, 53, was struggling to make out what his star-studded clientele were telling him, but refused to admit to himself that he had a problem.

His partner Michelle Kennedy, 36, took matters into her own hands, bundling him into a taxi and only revealing at the last minute that she was taking him for a hearing test.

The chef, who now wears a hearing aid, said: "I'm so happy that she did that, even though I was grumpy at the time and arguing it was unnecessary!"

He said: "I remember David Beckham brought the whole family in for a meal and at the end of it he came to the door of the kitchen to thank me for the food and to ask if I would have a picture taken with his mum.

"He had to repeat twice what he wanted because I just couldn't pick it up - I thought at the time, 'He must think I'm stupid not understanding him'."

Jean-Christophe, who blames his love of loud music and noisy kitchens for the problem, said the hearing loss had been "very stressful".

He was convinced he was too young to suffer so was shocked when he finally received a diagnosis late last year of age-related and noise-related severe hearing loss.

He said he had been too proud and vain to admit to it, adding: "I thought wrongly that hearing aids were still those horrible little boxes stuck on top of your ear and would make me look old."

But the award-winning chef, who has two young sons, Jean, five, and Jacques, 18 months, with Michelle, as well as a grown-up daughter from his first marriage, added: "I realised it was not fair on my children if I ended up struggling to hear them as they grow up."

:: Jean-Christophe is fronting Specsavers Hearing Centres' Putting Hearing Loss On The Menu campaign, which aims to raise awareness of age related hearing loss. For more information, or to book a free hearing test, visit


From Belfast Telegraph