jean Christophe novelli
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Jean-Christophe Novelli on heartbreaking battle with his poorly young son

Cancer was followed by an autism diagnosis

Jean-Christophe Novelli features in Keeping Up With The Aristocrats, which starts on ITV tonight (Monday, January 17).

It also features four very rich families – some with familial links to royal families past and present.

But as we get to know this barmy lot, there is one familiar face in among them all.

Here’s all you need to know about Frech Jean-Christophe Novelli before.

Who is Jean-Christophe Novelli and how did he become famous?
Jean-Christophe and fiancée Michell (Credit: SplashNews.com)

Why is Jean-Christophe Novelli on Keeping Up With The Aristocrats?

In the new series, we see Jean-Christophe agree to cook for the Lord Ivar Mountbatten and husband James’ first ever pop-restaurant at their stately home of Bridwell.

But, as the episode goes on, the superstar chef is flabbergasted by some of the Lord’s decisions.

Read more: Loose Women viewers divided as Kaye Adams interrupts guest Jean-Christophe Novelli

Especially when it comes to decor.

But all’s well that ends well, and Jean-Christophe focuses on what he’s made his name as – a brilliant, uncompromising chef.

Who is Jean-Christophe Novelli and how did he become famous?
Jean-Christophe on Hell’s Kitchen (Credit: SplashNews.com)

How did Jean-Christophe Novelli become a chef?

Born in Arras, northern France France, 60-year-old Jean-Christophe Novelli is used to working with the great and the good.

When he was 14 years old, he left school to work in a bakery.

And taking an interest in cooking, it was his mum who was the inspiration.

“Mum was a fantastic cook,” he told Lovefood.com in 2019. “Even if we were having pancakes for dinner it was perfect. It wasn’t gastronomic, but it was perfect.

“I learned a lot from watching her.

“When mum went to the market I remember her using her senses when buying food: looking and smelling if she was buying artichokes for example.”

Taking all this onboard, by the time he was 20, Jean-Christophe had enjoyed a meteoric rise. So much so, he became personal chef to the wealthy and world-famous Rothschild family.

Jean-Christophe Novelli’s Michelin stars

Moving to the UK in 1983, Jean-Christophe worked with the legendary Keith Floyd at his Master’s Arms in Totnes.

After he worked with Keith, he continued his meteoric rise and won the first of his four Michelin Stars at Gordleton Mill in Lymington, Hampshire.

As the critical acclaim wracked up, so did the TV appearances, including a stint on ITV’s Hell’s Kitchen.

In 2005, he famously lost it in the TV kitchen, smashing plates and hurling cutlery as he laid into one of his students.

Who is Jean-Christophe Novelli and how did he become famous?
Gordon pranked Jean-Christophe (Credit: ITV)

Jean-Christophe Novelli and Gordon Ramsay

In 2005, Jean-Christophe opened his own academy, which operates to this day.

But in 2009, his pal Gordon Ramsay played a huge practical joke on him.

Dressing up as an old man named James, Gordon tried to infiltrate the academy.

Jean-Christophe clocked him early and snuffed out the gag, despite not speaking to him for four years.

He told Complete France: “I was surprised he turned up – we have known each other for 18 years but not spoken for the last four years. I could smell him!

“When I say smell I mean if you know someone for that long you can sense them and their character whatever they wear.

“We made our friendship up that day. He was very polite with my family and I invited him in – he showed great interest in what I was doing.”

Is Jean-Christophe married and does he have children?

The chef has been married twice.

First to Englishwoman Tina, and they share a daughter, Christina.

Christina, now 35, is an international house and trance DJ.

In 1999, Jean-Christophe then married South African model Anzelle Visser.

After their split six years later, she told the Daily Record about her heartbreak.

“Jean-Christophe is a very decent man, generous and kind – he has those qualities in abundance.

“I was heartbroken. But I can’t believe there is any relationship when there isn’t some form of sadness involved when it all ends.”

In 2007, Jean-Christophe got engaged to his partner of two years, Michelle Kennedy.

Together, they have three children.

Jean-Christophe Novelli’s son’s cancer battle

Jean-Christophe and partner Michelle Kennedy had a third child, a son named Valentino who was born in 2016.

But the little boy’s start to life has been incredibly traumatic.

At just three years old, Valentino was diagnosed with rare stage-four neuroblastoma cancer.

Jean-Christophe and Michelle breathed a huge sigh of relief when he miraculously beat the condition, but more was to come.

The couple revealed that their son was diagnosed with autism, and in a heartbreaking interview Michelle added that they might have to accept that he will be non-verbal.

Read more: Jean-Christophe’s girlfriend almost died as she cared for sick son

She told Hello! magazine: “We’re having to accept that he may be non-verbal, which is very sad.

“He can’t even say ‘Mummy’, which is heartbreaking.”

In a previous interview, Jean-Christophe told The Mirror how hard Valentino’s second diagnosis hit the family.

“It’s a lot to take in,” he said. “We just think oh my god, can we not just give this boy a break?

“He’s been on a real long journey though and if he can beat cancer, he can handle this. He’s a little fighter and we are looking on the positive side.”

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