Birmingham is celebrating a hat-trick of culinary success after three of its home-grown chefs were awarded coveted Michelin stars for their outstanding cooking.
The clutch of awards, from the most respected food guide in the world, means the city has assumed the title of the country’s regional culinary capital.
No other town or city outside London boasts so many top ranking restaurants in the 2009 Michelin Guide for Great Britain and Ireland. Enjoy the score because it is a Birmingham 3 - Manchester 0. Don’t even think about Leeds.
Chelmsley Wood burger-flipper turned kitchen maestro Glynn Purnell picks up a deserved star for Purnell’s in Cornwall Street while Luke Tipping, executive chef at Simpsons’ and Birmingham’s king of consistency, ensured the Edgbaston powerhouse maintains a star for the fifth year running.
However, the biggest surprise is unquestionably the triumph of maverick chef Richard Turner, whose namesake restaurant in suburban Harborne is, like Purnell’s, one of 26 new one-star establishments in this year’s guide.
As predicted in the Birmingham Post, Alan Murchison’s La Bécasse in Ludlow also gains a star, meaning the Shropshire town once again has two Michelin starred restaurants, Chris Bradley at Mr Underhill’s maintaining his ranking.
Ludlow old boy, mercurial Frenchman Claude Bosi, gains a second star for his much-vaunted Mayfair restaurant, Hibiscus. Other notable new one-star entries include Lords of the Manor at Upper Slaughter, Gloucestershire. Simon Haigh at Mallory Court, Leamington Spa, also keeps a star.
In terms of top-level cooking, Ludlow, the Midlands’ long-established gastro-centre, must now make way for Birmingham and the exciting emergence of La Cuisine Brum.
All of Birmingham’s top three Michelin chefs hail from the city and have learned their craft here. Drawing on classic French styles, they have successfully incorporated new-wave Brit-cook flourishes. Their brilliantly executed food is comparable with anything in London while their restaurants lack the snobbish air and tasteless bling that taints the atmosphere of too many places south of Watford.
Pascal’s in Edgbaston, run by Pascal Cluny, also maintains its Bib Gourmand for “good food at moderate prices”.
Richard Turner spent a long night celebrating his new-found success with business partner Nick Crudgington, owner of the Bucklemaker in St Paul’s Square, but he was cooking Sunday lunch as normal at his popular High Street restaurant.
Turner, 38, was thrilled by his success, saying: “What this proves is that everyone has a misconception about Michelin, that it is poncey. This proves you can open a little restaurant and if you offer good food at a reasonable price and do the things a restaurant is meant to do then Michelin will reward you.”
Purnell, who won a star at the former Jessica’s in Edgbaston, said the latest star meant so much more because the Cornwall Street restaurant, opened in 2007, was his own baby.
He said: “I am really pleased. I’ve had two head chefs jobs and two Michelin stars. I now need to get two in the same building. I’ve got more freedom to do what I want these days. Everything is how I like it, not just as a chef but as a restaurateur.”
Purnell, 34, who has two children, Oliver, three, and Esme, just four months old, won’t be sitting back and bathing in the one-star glory though. He said: “Now it is time to take it to another level.”
The Michelin ratings were due to be released on Wednesday but it is understood the announcement was made on Saturday after information was leaked on the internet.