Meet Gordon Purnell
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO GORDON IS THE TALENTED VENUE MANAGER AT CHARLIE PARKER’S ON PADDINGTON’S OXFORD STREET. HE FELL IN LOVE WITH THE INDUSTRY FROM A YOUNG AGE AND TALKS ABOUT THE PEOPLE AND PLACES THAT HAVE INSPIRED HIS CAREER AND WHO INSPIRES HIM DAILY.
JOIN THE HOSPITALITY INDUSTRY?
Since I was a kid, I have always loved the sounds and the hustle and bustle that you find in cafes and restaurants. The coffee machine, the clinking of glasses, the background noise of dozens of people having different conversations. It’s a fascinating, wondrous and exciting environment.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN THE INDUSTRY, AND WHERE HAVE YOU PREVIOUSLY WORKED BEFORE CHARLIE PARKERS?
I have been in the industry for 11 years. The first place was a Frankenstein themed bar in Edinburgh - it was spooky! Then came The Voodoo Rooms were I worked for four years. I then opened Panda & Sons before becoming area manager of this venue and Hoot the Redeemer.
When I moved to Sydney, I stepped into the role of bars manager at Coogee Pavilion.
WHAT IS YOUR POSITION/ ROLE AT CHARLIE PARKER’S?
WHAT IGNITES YOUR PASSION, OR MOTIVATES YOU WITHIN THIS ROLE?
I love the people first and foremost. Everyone is on the same page and push to be the best at what they do every day.
I love the ethos of the bar, in terms of being mindful about the environment and using creative methods to reuse waste products.
The atmosphere is amazing throughout the week as it goes from being a cosy romantic setting to a buzzing raucous badass of a bar.
IS THERE SOMEONE IN THE INDUSTRY THAT INSPIRES YOU? WHO IS IT, AND WHY?
I take most inspiration from people that are around me on a day to day basis. I have been lucky to work alongside some very talented individuals. My colleague Giacomo Franceschi inspires me hugely. He has a raw, uncut, uncensored obsession for making sure that everyone who walks through the door has an unforgettable experience. The drinks that he is coming up with at the moment are genuinely the best I have ever seen.
WHAT DAILY CHALLENGES DO YOU FACE IN YOUR ROLE?
Ensuring that all the drinks that go on the list are commercially viable can be challenging. My head and my heart are always at loggerheads.
WHAT GRINDS YOUR GEARS ABOUT THE INDUSTRY AT PRESENT?
The six-month rule for working holiday visas has bitten me on the bum many times. I am excited to see what the changes in the lockout laws will bring to the city. I may even see Charlie Parker’s stay open until 2am.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON CURRENTLY WITHIN CHARLIE PARKERS?
We have got some awesome stuff going on at the moment.
A couple of months ago, we put a beehive on the roof of our building. At the start we had a colony of 8000 bees, that has now increased to 20000. We are hoping to produce honey in the spring, which we will use to make mead and have on our toast in the morning.
The biggest project at the moment is our garden (also on the roof). We currently have 19 plant varieties which are set to grow and grow - excuse the pun. Every single drink on our current menu uses something that we have grown in the garden, be it fresh, dried or as a distillate. We have a compost system which has proved to be a big success. Any food waste that we can’t rehash into a garnish or distillate goes back into the garden by way of compost.
WHAT’S BEEN THE HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR CAREER TO DATE?
When we started Panda & Sons we did a series of bar takeovers to promote the bar. We drove to Paris via Holland and the last stop was Little Red Door. Remy Savage and Daniel Schofield shared the stick with us that night and hosted the hell out of us. The night was going really well and the Parisian crowd seemed to be loving the drinks. There was a surprise in store. We had organised a piper to come into the bar in full highland dress to stride up and downplaying traditional Scottish tunes on the bagpipes. I don’t think anyone who was there that night will ever forget it! Having said that, I have never been so excited about any project as I am about what we have going on at Charlie Parker’s, it’s only the beginning.
IF YOU WEREN’T IN THE INDUSTRY WHAT CAREER JOURNEY DO YOU THINK YOU WOULD HAVE TAKEN?
I have always thought that I would have been a good teacher.
YOU HAVE A YOUNG FAMILY, HOW HAVE YOU MANAGED TO FIND A LIFE / WORK BALANCE? AND IF SO, SHARE WITH US HOW YOU’VE ACHIEVED THIS?
My partner Laura is the hero when it comes to this, I am constantly in awe of how amazing she is at being a mum and dealing with the stresses that come with it, especially not having any family over here. My employers at Merivale have been fantastic in supporting me and being sympathetic towards my needs. Becoming a father is such a big thing and it changes you from the start. Your sleeping patterns and social habits definitely change. Having been in the industry, especially as a bartender, you have already been conditioned to being a parent. You have to be awake all night, you will have had to have cleaned up bodily fluids at some point, you are used to loud noises and screaming and crying. But through it all, you love what you do more than anything.
DO YOU IMPLEMENT THIS WORLD LIFE BALANCE WITHIN YOUR TEAM, AND IF SO, HOW DO YOU MANAGE IT?
I know that my team have my back. It’s generally fine for me as I usually work nights so I can be with the kids during the day. There have been times when I have had to jump out for a doctors appointment, but someone is always keen to tag in for me.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR GORDON?
I would love to educate others on what we have achieved at Charlie Parker’s. It’s important to know that you can make something magical with resources that are on your doorstep or even in your bin.