On Friday 7 July 2017 a highly important anniversary for food lovers in Birmingham was celebrated. On that very day, 10 years before, Glynn Purnell had opened the doors of his ground-breaking new restaurant to the public and dining out in Birmingham and the West Midlands would never be the same again.
In his book, "Cracking Yolks and Pig Tales" Glynn recalled how his first experience of cooking was preparing food for his younger siblings when his mother and father were out working and his earliest signature dish being baked beans on toast with some onion and a teaspoon of curry powder added to the beans. The dish would be finished with a covering of cheese. Glynn recalls that he thought he was a genius as did his brother and sister who were the beneficiaries of Glynn's early culinary inventiveness. Those of us who love to dine at his restaurant now know that these early presentiments of genius were completely correct.
Glynn describes how at the age of 14 he began washing up and preparing salads for a hotel lounge and when he left school he began to work in the hotel kitchen under Peter Wintle and Roger Kendrick. He moved on to work in the hotel restaurant, The Terrace under the Head Chef, Tony Morris, and with Mark Hill, the sous-chef.
The next step in his career was to work at Simpson's when it was in Kenilworth and he worked under the chef-patron and father of modern West Midlands cuisine, Andreas Antona. There he worked under Luke Tipping and Andy Walters.
He worked for a period under Claude Bosi at Hibiscus in Ludlow (see Blog 7). During his time at Hibiscus the restaurant increased its single Michelin star to two.
Leaving Hibiscus he became Head Chef at Keith and Diane Stevenson's newly opened Jessica's in Edgbaston. A Michelin star and the AA Restaurant of the Year title followed soon after.
After four years at Jessica's Glynn decided that he wished to open his own restaurant and found an old Victorian warehouse in Cornwall Street and, on a very tight budget, opened Purnell's with his wife, Kerry, on 7/7/07 at 7PM. Jessica's closed to business. Purnell's was awarded a Michelin star in 2009 and continues to hold this distinction. The restaurant's first manager was Jean Benoit Burloux and he was succeeded by Sonal Clare in 2014.
To celebrate the restaurant's tenth anniversary he held a free lottery so that 15 winners and their guests could pass the 10th anniversary evening being indulged with a champagne reception and a 10 course meal. Sadly my entry, one of over a thousand, was not drawn from the hat but you can't always have what you want in life. I have just received a leaflet (illustrated above and below) which is a rather nice souvenir in itself with the rather witty photograph of Chef outside his restaurant and a nonchalant pigeon wandering by oblivious to the presence of one of Birmingham's great celebrities. If it knew what Glynn can do to pigeons it probably wouldn't have got so close.
Here's to Purnell's' next 10 years and its second Michelin star!
The leaflet that announced the Grand celebration dinner for the lucky winners:-
Cracking Yolks & Pig Tales, Glynn Purnell's first book, published 2014 by Kyle Books:-
Rib Ticklers & Choux-ins, Glynn Purnell's second book, published 2016 by Kyle Books:-
Both signed copies, of course:-
|Happy Diners saying "Here's to another 10 years, Glynn"|