Up close and personal with Richard Turner, chef patron of Turners at 69 and one of the leading lights of Birmingham’s burgeoning cooking scene
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF
I’m Richard Turner, chef patron of Turners at 69 in Harborne. The restaurant has recently undergone a transformation in terms of its ethos and identity. I got bored with the pomp and ceremony of tasting menus and all that’s associated with them, so we’ve stripped it back and created a menu that’s absolutely about quality, without the bullshit. It’s accessible and relaxed.
HOW DO YOU GET INTO TOWN?
I drive from my home in Bournville down the Bristol Road to the restaurant in Harborne. It’s so important to me to be at the heart of the community here and there are some great things happening. Sometimes I wish visitors would understand that Harborne is only five minutes from the centre
HOW’S THE COMMUTE?
It’s largely okay as I avoid the city centre. It could be a lot worse.
IS BRUM A GOOD PLACE TO WORK IN?
It’s my home town and that’s the simple reason I opened here all those years ago and it’s a great place to work! In the last 10 years the restaurant scene has boomed and people are broadening their horizons and becoming more diverse in their tastes, which is great for the city.
It might not be coffee, but The Plough in Harborne is one of my favourite places.
We never pop out. It sounds a bit ‘poor me’, but honestly we just don’t stop. When I do have a free evening though, I’m always out eating dinner somewhere with my wife Meena to see who’s doing what, and what’s new.
Well I don’t bother with any exercise and I certainly wouldn’t call it powerwalking, but I take my dog Coco out for a trot, usually in Cannon Hill Park.
WHERE’S YOUR FAVOURITE PART OF THE CITY?
Harborne! No, really, I enjoy all parts of the city for different reasons. Moseley’s great because it’s so diverse and the Jewellery Quarter is beginning to find an exciting new identity. I prefer the more earthy parts of the city to the centre. They’re more interesting.
Again I’ve got to say The Plough. We have better beers available in this country in recent years and a pale ale goes down well.
HOW CAN THE CITY BE MADE BETTER?
I think as individuals we shout about Birmingham but as a collective unit we could do better. By ‘we’ I mean the council. People come to the city now for its bustling food scene – they sure as hell don’t come for the football! Glynn Purnell and I were the originals doing great things in our home town and putting Birmingham’s food scene on the map without much support. Visit Birmingham used to run Taste of Birmingham but due to budget cuts that stopped. More support would be a big improvement.