Q&A: TV chef Glynn Purnell on the 'absolutely fantastic' Warwickshire food scene

By James Smith

23rd Apr 2022 | Local Features

Yummy Brummie Glynn Purnell sat down with Shakespeare's England to discuss his Henley-in-Arden venture
Yummy Brummie Glynn Purnell sat down with Shakespeare's England to discuss his Henley-in-Arden venture

Following the opening of his first Warwickshire pub - The Mount - Yummy Brummie Glynn Purnell sat down with Shakespeare's England to discuss his new Henley-in-Arden venture.

Set inside a 200-year-old former cider mill on Henley-in-Arden high street the pub comes after Purnell's in Birmingham was named as the second best restaurant in the UK by Harden's 2022 best restaurant guide.

There are similarly high hopes for the TV chef's new business.

Best known for its 16th century architecture and more than 150 listed buildings Glynn, reveals how highly he rates the "absolutely fantastic" food scene in Warwickshire, his favourite place in the county, and how he'd spend his perfect day.

The Mount has opened in a 200-year-old former cider mill in Henley-in-Arden

What appeals to you most about moving to the small historic high street in Henley-in-Arden?

Henley-in-Arden is such a quintessentially English town. It's like Midsomer Murders but without the crime and death rate.

It's a great little town. It's a stone's throw away from one of the most famous towns in the world, Stratford-upon-Avon, and it's beautiful. It's so perfectly English.

It's got such a lovely local feel to it. When you walk down the street it just makes me feel happy to be there.

What do you think of South Warwickshire's ever-growing foodie scene?

It's absolutely fantastic. You say it's growing, but I think it's been there for a long time. It probably just hasn't been highlighted as much as it is now. I used to work with Andreas Antona at The Cross - I was his sous chef at Simpson's in Kenilworth. I know Adam Bennett.

Mark Fry and Matt Cheal both trained with me when I was sous chef at Simpson's, so I know those two lads really well, and Matt's going to be just across the road now, so I hope to see more of him. I saw Mark just before Christmas and he's doing tremendously well at Tailors in Warwick.

Michelin star chef Purnell used to work under Andreas Antona, the owner of The Cross at Kenilworth

Simon Haigh's a bit of a legend, so it's great that he's gone back to Mallory Court. He won a star there years and years ago and held it for a decade, so it would be great if that could happen again.

Paul Foster is another phenomenal chef - I did a podcast with him and ate at Salt earlier this year and it was great. I keep in touch with lots of them, and hopefully I'll get to spend more time with them now I'm going to be in South Warwickshire a bit more.

The food scene here is great already, but if I can do my bit to bring more attention to how great the food in the area is, then even better. 

What's on the menu?

What's great about having a pub is that we can do some absolute classics like battered fish and chips, which is dayboat sustainable fish. We can give a really good offering of a Herefordshire sirloin steak.

We also play on things in a typically playful Purnell's way. So, the starters include a cheddar custard, which is almost set, with sweet and sour tomatoes.

Bringing a bit of Birmingham to the menu we've got ham hock terrine with GP Sauce (tipping my hat to the great Brummie HP sauce).

Will you be making the most of local produce?

We'll try and use as much local produce as we can. I'm already a big fan of Berkswell cheese. That's delicious, and it's always on the menu at Purnell's.

Veganism has become very popular, is this something you have experimented with yourself and are there any dishes you would like to create for The Mount?

Veganism has become massive. We get everyone through the doors of Purnell's - vegans, vegetarians, pescatarians, flexitarians!

We've got some vegan dishes on the menu at The Mount at the moment, and there's vegetarian dishes on there, there's plenty of fish options, so there's a good variety of dishes on the menu. We have seen an increase in veganism at the restaurant, so we'll just suck it and see. If the demand is there, then the choice will grow.

Are you a Shakespeare fan and is Warwickshire a region where you have spent much time previously?

I worked in Kenilworth when Simpson's was there, and I actually live in North Warwickshire. I'll admit I'm not a massive Shakespeare connoisseur and I never have been. I didn't really have the attention for it when I was at school. But I do appreciate his brilliance.

I've spent lots of time in Warwickshire - fishing on the Avon and on day trips to places like Stratford. I also spend a lot of time in Solihull. I went to college in Solihull. I was actually going to open a place in Knowle before The Mount came about, but that didn't pan out, so Henley have got me instead!

Where are your favourite destinations and hangouts in the area?

Stratford-upon-Avon is a cracking place and Henley itself of course! I used to come over to Henley and have drinks in the local pubs. I've done a rafting race on the river Avon in Stratford when I was younger, which was great, and I've fished in some great places in the area.

So, all over, really! Knowle is lovely. And Solihull - I love popping into Touchwood to do a bit of shopping and for a glass of wine. But probably my favourite place of all is Henley Ice Cream.

It's fantastic. I've been going there for years.

What is your favourite cuisine?

I love all forms of cuisine. I like a little bit of spice, but then I do love the solid British stuff as well. You can't beat a shepherd's pie. I don't mind a faggot or two. I like traditional food as well as modern flavours, so it's really difficult to pinpoint what my favourite cuisine is. Good cuisine. That's what I like.

Who has inspired you most in your life and career?

My mum. She was a great cook. A good, solid home cook. And a good, solid, honest person.

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