• Cyril McAree

Recipe for Success! Jean-Christophe Novelli Names His Belfast ‘Grand Chef’

Jean-Christophe Novelli – the French-born, Belfast-bound celebrity chef – has named local man Jim Mulholland as ‘le grand chef’ of his first restaurant on the island of Ireland. ‘Novelli at City Quays’ is set to open in April as part of the all-new AC Hotel Belfast, the £25 million hotel owned and developed by Belfast Harbour in the heart of its landmark City Quays development.

Situated right on the waterfront, with unparalleled views across Belfast Lough – optimised by a double-height glazed façade and open-air terrace – the 112-seater ‘Novelli at City Quays’ restaurant marks the multi-Michelin-starred and 5-out-of-5 AA Rosette-winning chef’s Ireland début.

It is also the first in the AC Hotels by Marriott® 100+ global portfolio to feature a destination restaurant, with ‘Novelli at City Quays’ representing an outstanding coup for Belfast and Northern Ireland’s hospitality and tourism offering.

The appointment of Jim Mulholland, who is highly respected in the industry and first came to the celebrity chef’s attention in 2016 when he cooked for him at Ballyrobin Country Lodge, making a memorable impact both for his food and his personality, will enable the culinary duo to ‘cook up’ a bespoke-for-Belfast Mediterranean menu.

‘Checking in’ at the AC Hotel Belfast this week, where he and Jim have been overseeing the fit-out and finish of their custom-designed kitchen and dining room, Jean-Christophe said: “This is a very exciting time with the opening of my first restaurant in Ireland now firmly in sight. I’ve wanted to open a restaurant here for some time and, with location being everything, am very proud that it will be here in Belfast, a city enjoying such tremendous international recognition and goodwill, in the stylish new AC Hotel Belfast in the stunning City Quays area.

“I’m also delighted to announce Jim Mulholland, a very talented chef and an extraordinary gentleman and fantastic team leader, as my head chef. Jim fully shares my vision for ‘Novelli at City Quays’ and will be instrumental in helping me deliver it. Our ambition is to provide customers with an authentic Mediterranean dining experience whilst at the same time paying homage to our Belfast location with locally sourced produce. Together, we hope to deliver a world-class dining experience that Belfast, Northern Ireland and Ireland can be proud of.”

Jim Mulholland added: “It’s a very exciting time for me on both a personal and professional level to take up the role of Grand Chef in Jean-Christophe’s first restaurant in Ireland and, indeed, in the first AC Hotels in Ireland. I have long been a devotée of Jean-Christophe and to be working with him, here on my home turf, is an absolute honour. I look forward to bringing some local flavours and flourishes, as well as the best of Northern Ireland produce, to his Mediterranean table!”

The AC Hotel Belfast will be a contemporary-luxe, four-star hotel. With 188 guest bedrooms, it will be among the city’s largest hotels and, as well as the ‘Novelli at City Quays’ restaurant, will offer the complete complement of signature AC Hotels’ guest services, including fitness room, library, meeting facilities and the now-iconic AC Lounge.

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