“THE Nation’s Favourite French Chef”, Jean-Christophe Novelli, is to open his first UK restaurant in over a decade - in Liverpool.

In the latest turn of events for the anticipated DoubleTree Hilton Hotel & Spa on Dale Street, Novelli has struck a deal with it and management company Interstate Hotels and Resorts to launch his brasserie, Jean-Christophe Novelli at Michelle, when the hotel officially opens in April.

Development of the Grade II listed building complex, one time home of Liverpool’s Conservative Club, has been dogged by delays. Celebrity chef Simon Rimmer was originally appointed to the role but walked away from the venture last August.

But happy days are, it seems, here again with Terence Southward, the hotel's general manager, hailing Novelli's arrival as a "major coup for the city".

“It’s full steam ahead," he said. "DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel & Spa Liverpool will officially open in April."

The latest announcement marks a return to the UK restaurant trade for Novelli, 53,  who came to Britain at the age of 22 and worked in Keith Floyd's pub while his boss was carving his own celebrity chef career. The Frenchman subsequently notched up four Michelin stars in his career. 

But he took a break from restaurants after his son was born five years ago. The Liverpool venture, with 120 covers, is envisaged as the first of a new "concept".

 “I’ve had a few years away from being involved in restaurants to concentrate on my young family, cookery school and chef’s academy, however I’ve always kept my eye out for the right opportunity to come along," he said.

“The dream and the goal is to create the most talked about and respected brasserie in the North West and I’m already experimenting with ideas, themes and concepts and developing a bespoke menu from scratch for Jean-Christophe Novelli at Michelle.”

Novelli, who earlier this year revealed he is suffering from severe hearing loss after years spent in noisy kitchens, is said to be personally recruiting the day-to-day kitchen staff who will be trained at his award-winning Novelli Academy in Hertfordshire.

 “I am passionate about getting the right team to work with me,' he said.

Terence Southward added: "Jean-Christophe is one of the best chefs of his generation and it seems only right that such a prestigious building should be partnered with such a fabulous chef. This is not only wonderful news for the hotel but also a major coup for the city, and we are proud to welcome him.”