Michelin-starred chef Glynn Purnell has released his first cook book – and he’s giving Gordon Ramsay a run for his money with his liberal use of “the F word”.
The award-winning chef uses the word 15 times in the pages of his debut book, Cracking Yolks and Pig Tales, with the language being every bit as colourful as the photography.
But the proud Brummie is unapologetically personal in his style.
“Everything I do is personal!” he said, “That’s why I upset so many people – mainly myself.
“That’s my biggest problem – I wear my heart on my sleeve 24/7.
“My restaurant might be grey but there’s never much of a grey area in my life. I’m very extreme at what I do.”
The hardback book promises to lift the lid on life behind the kitchen doors at his restaurant in Cornwall Street as well as sharing his best loved recipes.
The book intertwines recipes with stories from Purnell’s past, giving an insight into the inspiration behind many of his seventies-inspired signature dishes.
Each recipe has a personal introduction from the chef explaining what it means to him and the chapters are interspersed with personal anecdotes of high jinx in hot kitchens.
Readers can expect tales of mischief and mayhem involving fellow chefs Tom Kerridge, Claude Bosi and Sat Bains, as well as culinary capers that evoke sympathy for commis chefs on the bottom rung of the kitchen ladder.
It includes favourites from the menu at Purnell’s, such as signature dishes “The Emotions of Cheese and Pineapple ‘Soixante-dix’” and “From Mum to Michelin”, an egg dish with haddock foam and cornflakes setting out to whet appetites as well as tempting competent home cooks to challenge themselves with more elaborate concoctions.
He said: “I’ve been asked to write quite a lot of books over the years – home cooking, diet books, even books about tomatoes – but for my first cook book I wanted to have some say on what I wrote about.”
Following a stint of work experience as a schoolboy at Birmingham’s Metropole Hotel near the NEC, Purnell went on to kick-start the city’s culinary success..
After working under Andreas Antona at Simpsons, he launched Jessica’s restaurant, winning Birmingham’s first Michelin star (the same year that Michelin-star Simpsons moved to Birmingham from Kenilworth). He went on to open his own eponymous city centre restaurant, winning a star in 2009, the same year that Richard Turner won a star for his Harborne venue, and he has retained his success each year since, as Adam Stokes’ restaurant last year boosted Birmingham’s star tally to four.
Over recent years he has made the transition into television, taking part in the Great British Menu, winning twice and then appearing as a mentor.
He was also featured on The Great British Food Revival and regularly appears as a guest chef on Saturday Kitchen with James Martin.
Growing up in Chelmsley Wood, Purnell is a proud Brummie and a Birmingham City supporter, and despite kitchen stints in France and Spain he never had any hunger to leave the city, where he is now raising three children with his wife Kerry.
His love affair with Birmingham shines through in the book with tales from his childhood and recipes such as “Birmingham Soup 1793”, a reinvention of a soup made by industrial giant Matthew Boulton in the late 18th Century, which he sold to his workers for a penny.
Purnell says: “It’s a very different cookbook. Some of the dishes are a little bit challenging to make.
“There are some unusual combinations such as the Pheasant ‘Maryland’ with deep fried banana, and I don’t think a novice is going to be able to start knocking up haddock and eggs straight away but there are less challenging recipes and there are some funny stories.”
He added: “This is not a restaurant cookbook or a home cookbook; it’s just a cookbook.
“If you want to cook a challenging dish from the restaurant you’ll find it here. If you want to cook something a bit more down to earth, such as faggots and peas, it’s also here.
“If you want to flick through it and use it to prop up a wonky table, it’s good for that too.”
Supporters will be joining Purnell for an official book launch on June 2 at his bistro in Newhall Street.
* Cracking Yolks and Pig Tales (published by Kyle Books), is priced at £19.99.