Jean Christophe Novelli, or JCN for short, became a head chef at the age of 19 but soon shot to fame in the UK when he opened a smattering of restaurants in London. He now has a mini empire of eateries around the world as well as a bucket load of Michelin stars and AA rosettes. The gastronomical genius is also a bit of a fan of the automobile, as we found out in a brief exchange recently...
AOL Cars: What was the first car you ever owned?
Jean Christophe Novelli: The first car I owned was, believe it or not, a Citroen DS. I loved it. Just thinking about it brings back many happy memories of my youth and the mischief I got up to in it, but that's a story for another day!
AC: Did you have an affectionate name for it?
JCN: I'm not one for naming inanimate objects like cars, I can't see the point.
AC: How many attempts did it take you to pass your test?
JCN: I was fortunate enough to pass first time. I think that this was something I really wanted to achieve and achieve it quickly so I would have my independence
AC: Any horrible stories from your lessons or test?
JCN: During one of my lessons I remember nearly driving into a Gendarme's car, which wasn't funny at the time but luckily for all of us involved, we can look back now and have a little smile thinking about that event in my life.
JCN: I always wanted the Citroen DS, it was a fashion car at that time and it was definitely worth waiting for.
AC: What did your dad drive?
JCN: My father drove a Renault 8, which in those days was classed as a small family car, but we all enjoyed going on short trips around our local countryside and the seaside.
AC: Was it cool or embarrassing?
JCN: This is not something that I judge as being cool or uncool, a car is a car and has its purpose and uses in life. For our family in those days, we were fortunate to be able to have a car at all. Many of our friends were not so fortunate.
AC: What was the first road trip you ever went on?
JCN: My first trip with my friends was to Boulogne, the famous seaside resort, when we were 18 years old and I was lucky enough to be the only one out of our group who could drive. The only problem was that the car didn't have 1st or 3rd gear and no handbrake but we got there and back, eventually!
AC: Can you talk us through your current car collection?
JCN: I currently have a Citroen C4 Picasso, which is fabulous and is the perfect car for all of my uses. I use it to travel with my family around Europe and it feels safe and has many features that keep my family safe, I even have winter tyres to keep us on the road in the snow! Travelling around the UK for demonstrations, the C4 is perfect as it has so much storage space for everything I need when I am on the road.
AC: What is the worst motoring investment you ever made?
JCN: A few years ago I bought a Porsche Cayenne but unfortunately and maybe unluckily for me, it constantly broke down, costing me a fortune each time but that could have happened with any car I guess.
AC: How about the best?
JCN: I once owned a red Nissan Micra, which cost virtually nothing to buy, virtually nothing to run and was very reliable, probably one of the best investments I made, if you can class buying cars as an investment.
AC: If money was no object, what car would you buy?
JCN: Spending money on cars isn't my idea of a good idea. I believe that a car should be safe, practical and reliable and must serve its purpose. I now need a car that gets me from A to B safely with my family and can be used to transport all my equipment and produce around Europe to the demonstrations, for this I have the trusty Picasso.
AC: Have you ever got a date just by driving a cool car?
JCN: I have and I'm not one for saying too much about my earlier achievements as a youngster, all I can say is that my DS had great suspension!
AC: Give us a quick rundown of your top driving playlist?
JCN: Obviously my daughter, Christina Novelli, has to be top of my list along with any other dance music that can keep me awake on long trips.
AC: What is your ultimate road trip? Where would you go and what in?
JCN: I'd love to drive from London to Southern Italy in my car, stopping at various famous producers of great products from cheeses to Sicilian tomatoes and everything en route, inspiring me to create new recipes both for my books and my academy. Europe has some seriously good products and many people don't know what to do with most of them.