Ask a Brummie where to go for the best food in Birmingham, and most of them will tell you about Glynn Purnell. While the past ten years have seen other Michelin-starred chefs appear in the city, Glynn was one of the first on the scene. His restaurant Purnell’s has won countless awards for its inventive, playful tasting menus, while Glynn’s dedication and love for his hometown has been the inspiration for many of his signature dishes.
His most famous dish combines the flavours of smoked haddock, egg, cornflakes and curry – not your average plate of food. But Glynn manages to balance the contrasting flavours and textures perfectly, recreating a taste of his childhood in a Michelin-starred way. The entire dish is an homage to his mother’s cooking – which by his own admission, wasn’t the best.
‘My mum was an okay cook, but living in a council estate meant sometimes our big treat on a Friday was haddock and eggs,’ explains Glynn. ‘So my mum would take the haddock and cook it in milk – we always knew we were going to have it because we had this big flowery pan. She would poach the haddock to death then take it out of the pan, which she could barely do because it was falling apart. She would then cook the eggs in the smoky, fish-flavoured milk, which I used to drink out of the pan.
‘Halfway through cooking I’d say ‘Mum, can I have a piece?’ – which is the Brummie name for a slice of bread – and she’d say ‘no, wait for your dinner!’ But I’d take a piece anyway and keep asking for more,’ he continues. ‘Eventually she would say ‘no, your dinner’s ready!’ – even so, I would strategically pinch a pocketful of cornflakes.’