Leading chefs in Birmingham have formed a new group to promote the city’s restaurants, nurture fresh talent and boost the international profile of Brum cuisine.
It is hoped the Birmingham Chefs Alliance, featuring Michelin star maestros and inspirational chefs behind the city’s gastronomic renaissance, will become an influential group, helping to raise culinary standards while pushing employment opportunities, the use of local produce in restaurants and the emerging idea of food tourism.
As part of the city’s invigorated food culture, Marketing Birmingham is to lead a bid with European partners to win a grant of up to £300,000 to promote overseas catering placements. There are also proposals for a European Young Chef of the Year competition, in which the Birmingham regional winner will gain experience in top kitchens in countries such as France and Spain.
Although there have been loose associations between the top restaurants in the past, Birmingham’s pool of culinary expertise remains relatively untapped in terms of collective action. With clear direction and adequate funding, the alliance could become a powerful weapon in Birmingham’s marketing armoury.
The alliance held one of its first meetings at Pushkar Indian restaurant on Broad Street and pledged to increase membership and work together to bolster Birmingham’s dining experience.
The committee includes the city’s trio of Michelin star chefs – Glynn Purnell (Purnell’s), Luke Tipping (Simpsons) and Richard Turner (Turners) – as well as Andy Waters, of Edmunds, David Colcombe, of Opus and Steve Love, of Loves. It also includes the Michelin-star La Bécasse restaurant in Ludlow, where Will Holland is head chef, Marketing Birmingham, University College Birmingham and Heart of England Fine Foods.
The committee and the wider alliance will underpin and support Birmingham’s growing links with the Délice network of global food cities. The city sits on the executive of Délice and is poised to be re-installed as the organisation’s treasurer, for the next three years, at its annual general meeting in Montreal, Canada later this month.
Glynn Purnell praised the launch of the alliance and said it was “fantastic” to exchange ideas with chefs with the same “vision.”
Purnell said: “It is great that all the recognised restaurants are involved. We are going to club together and make a difference and put Birmingham on the map as a culinary city.”
Ivor Marsh, quality manager for Marketing Birmingham, said restaurants had a key role to play in selling Birmingham and the region as a gastronomic destination.
Mr Marsh said: “Quality and fine dining is important in changing perceptions of Birmingham as a city and region. This is particularly key in promoting the city and region on the national and international arena. A prosperous city and region can deliver a powerful message to future outside investment from companies looking at the desirability of Birmingham as a re-location and entrepreneurial centre.”
Committee members are being asked to act as mentors to those upcoming chefs who are aiming to achieve higher industry awards. The more accolades there are within the city, be they Michelin stars or positive guide listings, the stronger will be Birmingham’s case as a bona fide centre of gastronomy.
*Loves restaurant and Lasan are celebrating after winning new entries in the Good Food Guide.
Loves, in Canal Square, run by husband and wife team Steve and Claire Love, has a double reason to cheer as this week marks its first birthday.
The guide’s promotion of Lasan is the latest success for the Indian restaurant in St Paul’s Square. Head chef Aktar Islam’s stunning dishes helped Lasan to secure the title of F Word best local restaurant.
Other new entries in the Midlands include Sitara and Verzon House, both Ledbury, Green Café, Ludlow and Tailors, Warwick.