100: Glynn Purnell

01 July 2010 100: Glynn Purnell

Overall ranking: 96

Chef ranking: 31

Glynn Purnell - Snapshot

Glynn Purnell is the chef-patron of Michelin-starred restaurant Purnell's in Birmingham city centre. It was named Best New Restaurant in the 2008 Craft Guild of Chefs Awards and won a Michelin star in 2009.

Glynn Purnell - Career guide

Born in 1975 on a large council estate in the Chelmsley Wood area of Birmingham, Purnell's first job was mopping the floor at the Birmingham Metropole hotel at the age of 14. Two years later he left school and joined the hotel as an apprentice, working for the next six years in every department, from banqueting to the à la carte Terrace restaurant, where he discovered his passion for fine dining.

A move to Simpson's, Andreas Antona's Michelin-starred restaurant in Kenilworth, Warwickshire, provided the platform for his talents to really shine. During his rise up the ranks to sous chef, Antona packed him off on stages at Gary Rhodes, Alastair Little and Gordon Ramsay in London; the Pourcel brothers 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 this time he also 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 title with a prize of a two-week working holiday in Spain.

In 2002 he joined Claude Bosi's two-Michelin-starred restaurant Hibiscus in Ludlow, Shropshire, as sous chef, before taking on his first head chef role when Jessica's was launched by Keith and Diane Stevenson in 2003. Two years later, in 2004, he became the first chef to win a Michelin star in Birmingham, the same year that Jessica's was named AA Restaurant of the Year (England).

In 2007 he parted ways with Jessica's and went it alone, opening the 57-seat Purnell's in Birmingham city centre.

Glynn Purnell - What we think

Purnell is at the forefront of Birmingham's emergence as the second city for fine dining after London, a transformation that has gone on over the past five years. With his back-to-back appearances in the Great British Menu

During his training, a passion to learn in different fine-dining restaurants across Europe was only matched by his love of Birmingham city and its football club, where he holds a season ticket and even today shuts his restaurant on a Saturday lunchtime to attend.

Purnell's cuisine is marked by playful touches throughout, symbolised by his signature dish, smoked haddock foam with cornflakes, a dish with its provenance in his mother's cooking. His dishes often rely on modern techniques and make use of spices more familiar in Birmingham's balti restaurants than in European kitchens. The inventive nature of his cooking and his achievement of winning two Michelin stars at separate restaurants in the city have made him one to watch for the future.

His 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's 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 the time they are caught by a Brixham trawler to his own restaurant kitchen. He has appeared in the last three series of BBC's Great British Menu - in the first two winning through to the final as a competitor, and most recently as a mentor for regional hopefuls.

Glynn Purnell - Further information

Purnell's, Birmingham >>

Great British Menu - interview with Jason Atherton, Glynn Purnell and Stephen Terry >>

Glynn Purnell masterclass - Monkfish >>

Purnell's >>

Read more about the 100, the list of the most influential people, here >>

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