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Glynn Purnell

18 May 2009 by
Glynn Purnell

Glynn Purnell is chef-proprietor of Michelin-starred Purnell's restaurant in Birmingham. He opened the restaurant in 2007 after receiving critical acclaim at Jessica's restaurant, where he was proud to become the first chef in the city to win a Michelin star in 2005.

Born in 1975 on a large council estate in the Chelmsley Wood area of Birmingham, Glynn Purnell began to experiment with food from an early age. Left in charge of his younger brother and sister, he would serve them baked beans on toast with curry powder and chopped onions.

At the age of 14 he elected to go to a kitchen for work experience and ended up at the Birmingham Metropole Hotel, next to the NEC. Despite doing little more than mop the floor, he was keen to get a paid job and for the next two years he would catch the bus to the hotel every evening after school. Mopping was soon replaced with making salads and flipping burgers.

On leaving school, Glynn Purnell joined the hotel as an apprentice and worked for six years in every department from banqueting to the à la carte Terrace restaurant, where he discovered his passion for fine dining.

Purnell's exterior
Purnell's exterior
However, it was not until he joined Simpsons, Andreas Antona's Michelin-starred restaurant in Kenilworth as chef de partie, that his true talent began to shine through. With Antona's encouragement, Purnell was given the opportunity to travel all over Europe on stages and worked with Gary Rhodes, Alastair Little and Gordon Ramsay in London; the Pourcel brother in Montpellier, France; various Michelin starred restaurants in Birmingham's twin city of Lyon; and at Zaldiaran in the Basque country of northern Spain.

During his time with Antona, who promoted him to sous chef, Purnell achieved success in the Academy of Culinary Arts' Annual Awards of Excellence in 1996 and won the Rioja National Sous Chef of the Year, 2000 with a prize of a two week working holiday in Spain.

In 2002 he joined Claude Bosi at his two-Michelin-starred Hibiscus restaurant in Ludlow as sous chef. After nine months he moved on to accept his first head chef position at Jessica's on its launch by Keith and Diane Stevenson. As achieving the Michelin star, Jessica's was also named AA Restaurant of the Year (England) in 2005.

Purnell's quick wit makes him an ideal chef to cook and perform in front of an audience. His first opportunity to do so came at the BBC Good Food Show in 2005, since when he has gone on to appear on UKTV Food's Great Food Live programme and present the BBC1 documentary Working the Seas in which he followed the journey that fish make from a Brixham trawler to his own restaurant kitchen.

In the 2008 series of BBC2's Great British Menu, the judges awarded top marks to Purnell's dessert - marinated strawberries with tarragon and black pepper honeycomb with burnt English cream surprise - which went on to be served at a glittering banquet at the top of London's iconic Gherkin building.

Purnell, a lifelong Birmingham City FC fan, and his partner, Kerry, have two children, Oliver and Esmé.

Purnell won through to the the finals of the Great British Menu 2009, which revolved around cooking a meal for British soldiers returning from the War in Afghanistan. His winning recipe was for a fish course comprising Masala spiced Monkfish with red lentils, pickled carrots & coconut.


PUrnell's interior
PUrnell's interior

Glynn Purnell on helping the homeless >>

Glynn Purnell at Jessica's >>

Glynn Purnell to open own restaurant >>

Menuwatch on Purnell's >>

Purnell's wins accolade 2008 Craft Guild Chef Awards >>

Glynn Purnell at 2008 Chef Conference >>

Glynn Purnell on the Great British Menu dinner >>

Glynn Purnell to cook at charity dinner >>


Recipes from Great British Chef 2008 >>

Tail of fillet of beef classically roasted with a salad of peas, malt vinegar and black pepper, liquorice charcoal and purple potatoes >>

Soused mackerel with apple purèe and jelly, sautéd scallops and hazelnut and praline milk >>

Oxtail and smoked black olive tortellini, sprouting purple broccoli purée, Stilton cream >>



Glynn Purnell at Purnell's, Birmingham >>

Glynn Purnell on BBC Food >>

Glynn Purnell on UKTV Food >>

Glynn Purnell blog on sundaymercury.net >>

Purnell's review in The Observer >>

Purnell's review in The Independent on Sunday >>

Glynn Purnell returns to old school >>

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Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

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