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Oliver Peyton - Whetting the Appetite for British Heritage

Restauranteur Talks about Britishness and Baking

By Kristian Brunt-Seymour

Sat in a cozy corner of his simple yet stylish Peyton and Byrne bakery, Oliver Peyton talks about his desire to create a communal hub in the centre of Greenwich, one which revolves around Britain's new-found love of baking.

Yet the restaurateur and food critique wants to beyond simply delivering the aromatic smell of roasted coffee beans and vibrantly colourful cakes, by reclaiming a piece of British cultural heritage and making it fit into the every-changing fabric of the high street.

It becomes clear early on during our breakfast-time interview that heritage and community are important to Oliver, something he says derives from his upbringing in County Mayo, Ireland and something he wishes to change in a high street blighted by genericism.

“For me, community is about heritage”, he explains as he munches through his typically British bacon butty, “When I see something like a French brasserie, I see it as a piece of heritage and it's that essence which I wish to reclaim through British baking in a contemporary way”.

Part of this involves reinventing the stereotypically classic British bakery through the services it offers and the products it sells. An indication of this is the bakery's jazzy atmosphere coupled with my breakfast of a Peyton and Byrne Chelsea bun containing finely cut marmalade complete with a pot of blended tea, one of over 40 teas types on offer.

“Baking is in some cases at the soul of British society and the British heritage for baking is a very strong one, but I sadly think we're lost it for no other reason except through mechanisation, supermarkets and lifestyle changes", explains Oliver, his bacon butty almost finished, "It's about taking the British brand and toying with it to make it more modern and suitable for the way British people live now”.

Oliver's honesty about the direction he wishes the bakery to take is also reflected by the type of clientele he wishes to attract to the bakery. For Oliver, a business has a duty to be part of the local fabric of the area and to achieve this, he feels it's important to create a relaxing communal hub with fun activities, something he has encouraged through jam-making courses and bakery courses.

“We want to be a communal place, but I don't want to see us as being only for business people or only for people with children or people without children…where's the community in that!?

“I want the bakery to be all-inclusive and reflect the unpretentious and honest way that we do our work. Part of this comes from all our products either being made overnight in our bakery or on site. To me, it would be failure if we just appealed to one type of person.”

Oliver's aim to build a bastion of British heritage is certainly an ongoing project the success of which will only emerge in due course. However, if his ideas are as appetising as his marmalade Chelsea buns then he may indeed whet the public's appetite to engage in this project.

For more information on the Peyton and Byrne in Greenwich go to:




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