CELEBRITY chef Jean-Christophe Novelli is on a mission to unearth the North-East’s finest food secrets as he headlines a festival in the region later this month.

The Michelin-starred chef, who hosted TV’s Chef Academy and has appeared on Hell’s Kitchen, Cooks and The Apprentice, is the star attraction of Durham City Food Festival 2012, scheduled for October 27 and 28.

Booked to give demonstrations on both days, Mr Novelli plans to bring up to 20 recipes. But in the 24 hours before he takes to the stage, he will be scouring the area for the best local foods for the dishes.

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“I was in Alnwick and I was amazed and shocked at what the North-East offers,” he said.

“There’s some fantastic produce – and some fantastic chefs. “There are people who will never be millionaires but they’re doing it for the passion and pride and excitement of creating something that’s unique.”

The festival will include a gourmet food marquee with more than 100 stalls, masterclass demonstrations, book signings and food tasting.

There will also be Durham Castle tours and children’s entertainment. Other star names include Londonbased chocolatier Paul A Young, Scandinavian chef Signe Johansen, food journalist Andrew Webb, Sachins Indian Restaurant’s Bob Arora, Wynyard Hall Hotel’s Alan O’Kane and Oldfield’s owner Bill Oldfield.

Mr Novelli said: “I’m delighted to be associated with the festival. “It is flying the flag for quality and diversity and I’m proud to be part of it. It is going to be a fantastic time. “People should eat with excitement. “I’m still discovering. I could live a hundred years and I’d still discover more things about this planet. It’s not a trend, it’s a necessity to eat better.”

Mr Novelli will give demonstrations in the marquee, in Palace Green, Durham City, at 11.15am and 3.15pm on both days. The marquee is open from 9am to 6pm on the Saturday and 10am to 4.30pm on the Sunday.

Entry costs £4.50 for adults, £4 for concessions. For full listings, visit durhamfood festival.com