Glynn Purnell

The Yummy Brummie Glynn Purnell on pig’s trotters and watching Blind Date in his jammies in Chelmsley Wood – and why he could be a rock ‘n’ roll star or cage fighter!

Tell us about your cooking

My style is not modern British, it’s just what I like to cook. We try not to follow trends. Tasting menus could be out, a la carte could be in. I don’t care.

How did you become a chef?

I did my apprenticeship at the Birmingham Metropole but cooking really came from home. The kitchen was the hub of our council house in Chelmsley Wood. You could never be late for dinner. I’d go with mom to Birmingham market to buy smoked haddock, ham hocks, pig’s trotters and fresh roe, which is still very much in my cooking’s DNA.

What do you eat when at home?

I like rustic food and eat a lot of meat. I’ve had a counter built so we can film there. The hob’s in the middle and whenever I’m cooking for family and friends everyone gathers round. We serve food down the centre of the table so it’s a bit like The Waltons!

Who’s the best chef in the world and why? And who’s the best in Brum?

Birmingham has gone from the culinary desert of Britain to the country’s hotspot. Anyone who dons an apron or works hard in a kitchen all day to put the city on the map, they deserve that title. In the world, it’s Paris three-starred chef Pierre Gagnaire.

Is the customer always right?

If someone’s got a complaint, I will always deal with it. I never shy away, as you may have seen on Trip Adviser. I don’t do it to make headlines – I do it to stick up for my staff who work hard all day.

Share a cooking tip

Cooking is all about organisation. I’ve got thousands of tips on how to cook but how to approach cooking is probably the biggest tip. Don’t try and do it all at once. Take your time and enjoy cooking.

What was your favourite food as a kid?

We used to buy pig’s trotters on a Saturday. By the time mom had boiled them in the pressure cooker, I’d be in my pyjamas. I’d watch Blind Date with a pig’s trotter and packet of plain crisps on my lap. Also, I fondly remember haddock and eggs on a Friday afternoon. I do an upside down version of that in homage to mom.

Food heaven and food hell?

Hell is sprouts. They smell and taste like s***. When you eat them, you smell like s***. Heaven is great food but also great company. If you think of a special occasion, you think of the food but also the person you were with. Heaven can be eating a bowl of prawns while watching the sea come in. Or it could be down the Blues, having smashed Villa 3-0, eating a Scotch egg with a flat pint.

What’s the most unusual thing you’ve eaten?

Kokotxa in Spain’s Basque region. It’s a little upside down Y shape just underneath a fish’s jaw, which they cook. It’s gelatinous. Everywhere I went they were in little bowls. I thought they were cool.

If you weren’t a chef, what would you be?

A rock ‘n’ roll star, cage fighter or comedian. Or all three rolled into one! I could serenade you, punch you in the face and tell you a joke… and get paid for it!

What do you recommend from this evening’s menu?

The Provencal tart served with a really slow cooked neck of lamb. Those sort of cuts are what I ate as a kid. It’s a sticky, gooey, soft piece of lamb which you have to work so hard to make fantastic.

Try Glynn’s ‘Sweet Spicy Sticky Ribs

Sweet Spicy Sticky Ribs

This awesome recipe features in his new book, ‘Rib tickers & choux-ins’.

Serves 7


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon black onion seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 rack of pork belly ribs, cut into individual ribs
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 50ml white wine vinegar
  • 50ml dark soy sauce
  • 1 large tablespoon tomato ketchup
  • 2 medium–hot chillies, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped coriander
  • squeeze of lime juice


Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until softened but only lightly coloured. Add the cloves, cinnamon, onion seeds and ginger to the pan and then add the ribs. Cover all the ingredients with 2 litres cold water (or enough to cover the ribs), then simmer for 30–40 minutes until the meat is tender. Drain the ribs (you can reserve the cooking liquid to make a sauce for another dish). Heat a large frying pan, add the sugar, vinegar and soy sauce and boil the mixture until reduced to a thick consistency. Add the ketchup to the pan, then stir in the ribs, coating well with the glaze. Add the chillies, coriander and a squeeze of lime juice, then serve. The ribs can be served with egg noodles or jasmine rice.

Purnell's, 55 Cornwall Street, Birmingham B3 2DH. Tel 0121 212 9799. Glynn will also be cooking at the Friday Night Kitchen event at Villa Park on Friday, 7 October in support of Cure Leukaemia. More details