Novelli quits Auberge after row over fees

13 October 2005
Novelli quits Auberge after row over fees

Celebrity chef Jean-Christophe Novelli has quit his role as director and chef-patron of Brocket Hall following a dispute over unpaid fees.

Novelli, who has issued a writ for the outstanding money, oversaw the Auberge du Lac restaurant in Brocket Hall, Hertfordshire, the Novelli in the City restaurant at the London Capital Club, and kitchens at Brocket Hall and its golf course.

The French-born chef said delayed payments to himself and to suppliers had been a persistent problem over the past two years and he had decided it was time to move on to new challenges.

"I have managed to turn Auberge around financially and put the place on the world map," said Novelli. He also claimed turnover had grown threefold during his time at the restaurant.

Andrew Hepburn, director and general manager at Brocket Hall, described the writ as an "absurd" and "petulant" move and insisted the cash had been paid to Novelli's agent - a claim Novelli refutes.

Novelli now plans to expand and relocate the cooking school he launched in the kitchen of his Hertfordshire farmhouse in March. It will move into a converted barn on his estate.

The chef, who recently set up a Michelin-star-standard events catering service in partnership with MSL Global, is also launching a chef's table in a wing of his farmhouse that will be available for private hire.

Head chef Phil Thompson will take over the reins at the Auberge, while Novelli in the City will revert to its old name, The Brasserie, under chef Wesley Smalley.

By Angela Frewin

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