Full of mischief, ready with an anecdote for every occasion and with enough of a twinkle in his eye to justify his ‘@yummy_brummie’ Twitter handle, you might well peg Glynn Purnell as a cool bartender or a pop-up chef rather than a purveyor of haute cuisine. But a glance at – or a mouthful of – one of the dishes he rustles up at his Birmingham restaurant Purnell’s (or, indeed, on television) will rapidly reveal why this man earned his home city its first ever Michelin star. That star came eleven years ago, when Glynn was head chef at Jessica’s, working to hone his now-famous culinary style; elegant food with down-home roots and quirky, often-nostalgic flourishes.
It’s not just his food that has personality. One of the most sociable chefs in the industry, Glynn counts peers like Sat Bains, Claude Bosi and Tom Kerridge as main members of his ‘boys club’. Irrespective of gender, we think that this crew is one we’d love to belong to. The yummy Brummie tells Zoë Perrett about Birmingham’s diverse dining scene, his summer holiday plans, and the one recipe he’s still striving to perfect.
As the ‘Yummy Brummie’ you’re well appointed to sell the Birmingham food scene to us…
Birmingham is the centre of the universe! The food scene is so diverse and multicultural. I’m very proud to have been part of starting it all, gaining the city’s first Michelin star. Although my very favourite place to eat is in my garden with my family, Birmingham’s Chinese quarter has some really cool authentic back street places to grab traditional Chinese food, which I love. For street food, Digbeth Dining Club is bang-on. It’s on every Friday at 5.30pm, and was the winner of the UK’s best street food event 2013-14.
Apart from Brum, where else is your favourite food city?
Vitoria-Gasteiz in the Basque region, which holds on to its great food culture traditions while embracing modern techniques. The restaurants fuse the old and the new together, and the result is amazing!
Who are your best chef friends?
Claude Bosi, Sat Bains and Tom Kerridge. Years ago we used to be the motley crew, causing carnage and partying wherever we went. But now we’re all old and fat… except Tom. He’s the skinniest of us all!
Which chef would you most love to cook for you?
Marie-Antoine Carême (1784-1833); the first ‘celebrity’ chef, ‘the chef of kings and the king of chefs’. The location would have to be a Rothschild château.
Any unsung industry heroes?
Jamie Montgomery at Manor Farm produces the best Cheddar in the world! But I believe anyone who gets up and works hard for the industry – supplier, baker or chef – is a hero.
What’s next in the pipeline?
Most important is to finalise my family holiday, hopefully to a big villa in Spain or the Balearics, and extend our treehouse at home to the next level. Oh, and also finish my next cookbook!
Ah, yes, tell us about that…
Rib Ticklers & Choux-Ins is based on recipes from my bistro; home cooking, snacks and delicious puddings, all with the trademark Purnell humour. My favourite recipe is my haddock and eggs with curried cornflakes. Hardest to perfect? The recipe of life. We’re still working on that…
Spoil yourself with a visit to one of Glynn’s Birmingham-based eateries…
Glynn’s chic and contemporary Michelin-starred fine diner. Click here for more.
British-ish fare and bistro vibes in the city centre. Click here to discover more.
Attached to Purnell’s Bistro; THE place for a cheeky cocktail. Find out more here.
Plus: To try a host of Glynn’s delicious ‘posh picnic’ recipes, pick up a copy of our latest July issue.