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Jean-Christophe Novelli denies ‘publicity’ claim

Critic Michael Winner has accused celebrity chef Jean-Christophe Novelli of staging a publicity stunt by kicking him out of his White Horse gastropub in Harpenden, Hertfordshire.

Winner, who was asked to leave by the manager after arriving for lunch last Saturday (22 April), said Novelli planned the ejection and hired a photographer to whip up extra publicity.

Winner said: “He should get a life. He failed in London, he walked out of Brocket Hall and now maybe he’s struggling again so he set me up deliberately and then put out a press release.”

Novelli said he asked the Sunday Times restaurant critic to leave because he had upset members of his staff eight years ago at Maison Novelli in Clerkenwell, London. He denied it was a publicity stunt.

“I don’t give a damn what he says,” said Novelli, adding he had told Winner five years ago that he was banned for life from his restaurants. He also dismissed the claim that he was struggling at the White Horse.

“We’re booked up until August. Winner is a pompous little f**k, and more people should follow my example and kick him out. If he’s a food critic, I’m a film director.”

But Winner rejected the claim that he was rude to Novelli’s staff. “I didn’t speak to his staff rudely. If he thinks I did, he has seen me many times over the last eight years and never mentioned it,” he said.

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