Simon Purvis, exec chef of EDGE, on love, sarcasm, smart arses and the customer he thought he murdered
Simon Purvis is sizing up Denver's dining climate. "There are some really great restaurants in Denver, and some that really suck," he pronounces in his thick English accent. But when it comes to Denver's chefs, Purvis, himself the executive chef of the EDGE at the Four Seasons, has nothing but praise: "Chefs here are so passionate, and they're really into what they're doing. You can tell that they're excited to be in this profession -- that they wear their chef's coats with pride, which is a really nice thing to see."
Purvis, who was born in Portsmouth, England, has been donning a chef's coat for more than 25 years, but he started working in the kitchen when he was a teenager, whipping up omelets and helping his mum and grandmother prepare family meals, which were as common as the constant pitter-patter of English rain. "We ate every meal at home," he recalls, "and my mum cooked everything from scratch -- there was no McDonald's, no junk food -- and my gran was a great cook, too, and we always had these amazing family gatherings at her house."
If Purvis wasn't gathered around the family dinner table, he was camping in France, and it was there that the idea of becoming a chef began to take root. "My first real food experiences were in France," he remembers. "I was only thirteen at the time, and I was being exposed to pâtés and great breads, great red and white wines, Pernod and vegetables, and I knew that I wanted to set myself up for cooking school." So he took a few home economics classes, and after graduating, left England for Switzerland, where he got his first gig as a line cook at Le Montreux Palace, an exquisite hotel property on Lake Geneva. "I absolutely loved it -- the job and working with people from all over the world, including Spain, France, Switzerland and England -- and it was just a great experience for a youngster like me," says Purvis.
After his one-year contract was up, he moved to Edinburgh and jumped on the line of another hotel kitchen as a chef de partie. "I was working with some of the most talented people in the world," he says, "and we were getting the freshest, most high-quality food we could get, even sending trucks down to the markets in France so we could get the freshest seafood available."