Meet Stuart Langdell, Head Chef of PureCraft Bar and Kitchen.
Stuart isn’t your ordinary Pub Chef, he comes from good stock, classically trained by some of the best in the industry. With a pedigree of working in some of the best kitchens, like every great chef out there Stuart has worked his way up through ranks to be counted amongst the leading chefs in the West Midlands.
However, Stuart’s story does not start in a kitchen as a commis chef. Stuart’s first career choice was to join the British Armed Forces.
In 2004 at the age of 17 and not long out of school Stuart began his training with the British Army Reserves as an infantryman in the Staffordshire Regiment.
“My plan was to join the Royal Marine Commandos once I hit my 18th Birthday. However, before I could start training I was called up for a tour of duty in Iraq in 2005” Stuart adds. “Unfortunately, soon after deployment I was involved in a military vehicle accident. The injuries I sustained required a major operation and my spleen had to be removed which meant a future career in the military and my dream to join the Royal Marines were shattered”
After his early departure from the military Stuart was at a loss, and had no idea of what his future career would hold. “I remember I went out for dinner at a Cantonese restaurant with my girlfriend Kim. It was probably one of the first times I had properly eaten out and I was amazed by the whole experience. After that meal, I was inspired to learn how to cook. The following weekend I went to a Chinese supermarket and bought a wok, a cleaver, all sorts of different ingredients and embarked on my new journey.”
Having decided to begin a career as a chef, Stuart wrote a letter to a local country pub. “I applied for a job at the Mill Wheel and was offered a kitchen apprentice position. There were only two of us in the kitchen, myself and the head chef, Adrian. He was a great teacher and a former soldier himself. Most weeks we would receive delivery of whole venison and other game shot by one of the locals, sheep from the field opposite and locally sourced pigs into the kitchen. I learned how to butcher and break down the animals. Not something many chefs ever get to learn!”
One time during college Glynn Purnell visited to give a talk to the students about his career. “I took a chance and spoke to Glynn after and asked if I could work a “stage” in his kitchen (a day’s free work experience in someone else’s kitchen). To my delight Glynn accepted my offer and after spending the day with him and his team I was inspired to work with the best chefs in the country.”
A chef Stuart was particularly inspired by was Marco Pierre White “after watching his TV show ‘Great British Feast’ I decided to apply for a job at The Yew Tree Inn, Newbury, Berkshire in 2010. Following an interview and trial, I was offered a commis chef position which I accepted immediately and Kim joined the front of house team soon after. Although it was hard work I had a great time learning the fundamentals of fine dining and classic cuisine.”
In the search for his next role, Stuart looked towards home ‘I made a phone call to Simpsons restaurant in Edgbaston, Birmingham, following my departure from London. After talking with Luke Tipping, their Executive chef, I arranged a day’s stage with them whilst I looked for a job in the West Midlands. I must have impressed Luke whilst I was there as he offered me a job on the day which I never expected but gladly accepted. I had a great time there and learned the high standards expected in a Michelin starred restaurant.’
“After a year at Simpson’s, myself and my partner were approached by Marco Pierre White to help set up a new pub called the Pear Tree Inn in Whitley, Wiltshire. Soon after joining we both took over as Head Chef and General Manager. Quite a step up for a chef de partie and a chef de rang! A very challenging but great experience.
Stuart re-joined the Simpsons family in 2015 and spent about a year and a half as sous chef at the Cross, a Michelin starred restaurant in Kenilworth under the leadership of Adam Bennett. “Adam is a highly skilled and methodical chef, I learnt a lot about technique and the importance of a good recipe”
After moving on from the Cross Stuart took up a Head Chef position at the Duncombe Arms in Derbyshire where he was awarded 2AA rosettes and a Plate Michelin recommendation.
At the start of 2020 I joined Purecraft Bar & Kitchen. I really like their enthusiasm for delivering high quality food and a great pint of beer in a more relaxed and informal setting. With my experience behind me, I plan to build on this ethos to do something truly awesome in the heart of my hometown.
I’m really looking forward to the reopening of hospitality. I’ve spent a year at home perfecting recipes and indulging my young family with new dishes and ingredients. I can’t wait to get back into the kitchen and take PureCraft Bar and Kitchen to the next level. I have some grand plans for our reopening, and hope all our loyal Puritans can join us very soon.