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Food and Ingredients News

Oliver Peyton OBE – restaurateur, entrepreneur, gentleman

To many of us, Oliver Peyton is the often overly-critical judge on the increasingly-popular TV show, The Great British Menu. But he’s much more to the hospitality industry than that, a fact that has been recognised in the Queen’s birthday honours list for this year with the Irish-born entrepreneur being awarded an OBE for his services to an industry that, by his own admission, has served him well, too.

His UK career started not so much in cookery trade as the critic and restaurateur we know of today, but in a the far-removed vein of the same industry of running nightclubs. In the eighties, when he’d have not been so old himself, he ran both Brighton’s The Can nightclub and RAW in the capital.

It seemed a natural springboard then, once he’d dipped his entrepreneurial toe into the drinks supply consumer-end of the market, to step up a level and import beverages for resale onto others within the trade. His distribution and promotions network is accredited with bringing both Sapporo, the Japanese beer named after the city in which it originated and a spirit that needs no introduction, Absolut Vodka.

In the nineties, Peyton’s career emigrated from wet sales to dry as he opened the Atlantic Bar & Grill in London’s West End, his first restaurant (closed 2005). During his time there, he latched onto the notion that the world was about to begin being conscious of from where its food was sourced and the effect upon the planet that the food we ate had. The result was St James’ Park’s ‘Inn The Park’, a restaurant recognised for both its original architecture and its eco-friendly values.

Peyton and Byrne, the partnership of which Oliver is both Founder and Chairman of, are now the leading lights in providing open-air dining experiences, a trait all too familiar with anyone who watches The Great British Menu. After several regional heats, four chefs are chosen to invent, prepare and deliver in feast-sized quantities the dish of their creating to an open-air extravaganza for whichever cause is the beneficiary of that season’s show.

But the tall, gaunt Irishman with incisive wit does not stop at bringing the best out of the nation’s chefs. The Peyton & Byrne brand owns bakeries and cafes and Peyton Events is his own foray into providing exclusive dining facilities to some of London’s finest establishments. In typical fashion, when asked of his reaction to be awarded such a special accolade, he said it was ‘the icing on the cake’ to his wonderful career in an industry to which he is both indebted and that owes him a great debt of gratitude for his foresight and services to it, too.

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Cookery Course News

Le Gavroche – still the hippest eatery in London 45 years on

Even if you’ve never attended a cookery course in your life, do not consider yourself particularly to be a foodie or haven’t been to the capital for decades, you will have heard the name Le Gavroche touted in fine dining circles in magazines, television, even film.

Opened at the dawn of the summer of love in April ’67, when the media was still recovering from England winning the World Cup (some would say ‘still is‘) and the world was yet to be wowed by the greatest music festival ever at Woodstock, Le Gavroche had high expectations, even if London’s fine dining scene was only slightly more active than sedentary with the youth of the day experimenting in lentils and pulses rather than fine French cuisine.

However, Hendrix, Joplin, Morrison and Co may well be keeping the heaven-bound occupied (oh, yes they would – all sins would be forgiven for their unique style and music created whilst they were down here), Le Govrache is still standing, opening its doors in London for the 45th year.

The second generation of the Roux family are at the helm

And, still at its head are la famille Roux, whom many would argue were amongst the movement that started London’s mammoth turn around and entry onto the global map of haute cuisine. Gone were the cafés of the ‘Quadrophenia’ era (yes, I know the film was released in ’79, but you get the picture) and classy restaurants were springing up all over the capital in their place.

A check back on the restaurant’s history and you begin to see what an impact and influence the ground-breaking Michelin-starred eatery has had; from the biggest names associated with the silver screen and global dignitaries to our own royal family and prime ministers – all have had occasion to dine there in the past.

Michel Roux Jr., son of Albert and nephew of Michel, the two brothers who opened the famous restaurant in Chelsea before it found a new home in Mayfair, has been at the helm for more than twenty years. The cookery classes have been handed down the generation inhouse and, according to Michel Jr., it is not only the family’s passion for food, but also the manner in which the guests are treated that has been the backbone of Le Gavroche’s success.

Perfection is something to be strived for and that has led to this famous restaurant being a powerhouse and a beacon of all that is good about dining in the capital, whilst many a pretender has fallen by the wayside over the same period. It is no wonder, then, why, as Michel Jr. concluded, critics as well as customers have kept the restaurant a beloved treasure of the capital for forty five years.

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