My Home: Jean-Christophe Novelli, chef and restaurateur

At first, the celebrated chef wasn't keen on living in Luton. But he was won over by this 14th-century farmhouse

Like a typical Frenchman, my favourite rooms are the bedroom and kitchen. My kitchen is really the heart of the house. It's where I do all my best work, and the bedroom is where I like to relax. We live just a stone's throw from Luton airport. It took me a while to get used to the airport thing, but when you realise you can be in Paris or Dublin in under an hour, it's quite an advantage.

I came across this place by accident really. I had been looking for a rustic and authentic house in the countryside for a long time, had gone through about 500 brochures and was on the point of giving up when my girlfriend Joanna found it. When she first came across it, I thought, 'Luton, no way, I don't want to live there'.

We went to view it, though. You access the property by driving past a golf course, and I loved it immediately. It's a listed 14th century converted farmhouse with some really wonderful authentic features. There are fireplaces in every room.

Even so, the first Christmas we had here was awful, as there was no heating or hot water. I didn't realise you needed to fill up the oil tank. Being brought up in the city, and always being used to things working at the touch of a button I found it quite hard to cope. But after a while you get used to it, and now I love the fact that is heated throughout by a combination of real fires and the stove.

I have put my touch on the kitchen. It has a beautiful slate floor that has been here for years. Next to the fireplace, I have a hand-carved Don Quixote statue from Spain. A 75-year-old man carved it, and it means a lot to me. I didn't want for it to be shipped or posted, so I had to pick it up specially and I drove for 24 hours to Marbella to pick up.

I don't think you should dress your home because you have to, it should be because you feel like doing it. My parents keep adding things to their house, and they've been there for more than 47 years. Sometimes you can be driving past somewhere and see a pot, or a table or something and know that it's for you.

The wooden bank seating area around the kitchen table was already here and is made from railway posts. The sink was specially imported from Belgium, and the iron table I bought in France. There is a wooden cabinet that is made from two dismantled wheelbarrows that I bought from a craftsman from Devon.

The cooker is a semipro Molteni. Probably my favourite gadget is my Gaggia coffee maker, which is in the utility room, next to the kitchen. I think coffee is very important; the smell of it has always been with me, and even as a child I can remember my parent's house smelling of coffee.

Being a chef, I find the main thing you need to have in the kitchen is clarity and space, it doesn't actually matter what equipment you have, the main thing is space. I like listening to music when I cook, perhaps some jazz or classical like Rachmaninov.

The kitchen window looks out on to our swimming pool, which was installed a year and a half ago. It's a small pool but it has a special wave machine! I don't drink or smoke or take drugs, and keeping fit is very important to me, and so I swim, run and cycle every day.

Our bedroom is painted in a kind of bourgeois red colour, with wooden floors, and there are lots of purple and red cushions on the bed and candles. My girlfriend decorated it for me as a surprise, when I was away once.

The bathroom is en-suite, and it's quite luxurious. My 19-year-old daughter has a room here as well, so whenever she comes to stay it's there for her.

There are good and bad sides to living in the country. One of the best things is your independence and the fact that you can make as much noise as you want. Also, you follow the seasons much more than you would do if you live in the city. Just having the space can be relaxing.

I believe the mind needs distance to unwind. We have a wonderful view of the hills from our bedroom. The only thing I miss is being able to use the traffic and public transport as an excuse for being late.

I've got a wonderful garden and we grow figs, strawberries, grapes, and everything from lavender, rosemary and mint to rocket. We get deer, foxes and a huge variety of kinds of birds in our garden. In the nearby woods, there are all types of mushrooms growing and I once even saw a truffle.

When I'm not cooking, I tend to be reading. I have over 700 books, and a special library to house them all. Most of the books are on cooking or travel, which is another of my passions.

My other great love is my Doberman dogs. I have five of them and one has just had puppies. I'm up every morning at 6 am to walk them and then we go out again last thing at night.

There are not enough hours in the day for me to do all the things I want. I'm a perfectionist. But living here and being so close to nature is great for me: you realise you just can't compete against that.

Novelli Academy is a one-day course for groups of 10-15 people. For details call 01582 454070; www.jeanchristophenovelli.com

Discover more property articles at Homes and Property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Property search
Property search
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Savvy Media Ltd: Media Sales executive - Crawley

£25k + commission + benefits: Savvy Media Ltd: Find a job you love and never h...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Solicitor NQ+ Oxford

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CORPORATE - Corporate Solicitor NQ+ An excelle...

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible