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The banquets were successful and provided the opportunity for stately homes like Syon and Ham House to be opened for the purpose they were built entertaining.

"Everyone assumes I can cook, I can't, not at all," and that's a bold statement from the former owner of one of the country's largest small outdoor catering companies.

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With no formal training he learnt the skills of the trade travelling the country catering for golf tournaments and agricultural shows.

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for each of the monarchs to commend Gunter's bi centenary in 1986."

And although he claims there was never a time when people didn't get their food, it did come close.

By the 1970s Alan had taken over as managing director of Payne Catering and when his father passed away in 1978 the company had started one of its biggest operations hospitality at the Henley"It was a classic case of going against conventional wisdom," explained Alan. "Everyone told me no one was interested in rowing and I thought great reason to have hospitality."

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able to increase the sales from 12,000 beers to 50,000 a match."

Alan was under no illusions that he was to join the Payne catering Adidas Los Angeles Aqua Buy business straight from school in 1961.

about the Gunter's history. We discovered they had royal warrants from George IV through to George V and Napoleon III. Having done the research, we held a series of banquets with dishes they had done

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Now, as he enjoys his retirement in Richmond, he is reliving the trials and tribulations of an illustrious career as he writes his first book. And that means meeting old friends down the pub for a

Alan was soon joined by John Coomb, who, with his city banqueting experience, helped the company turn its hand to catering Corporation of London events.

the RFU at Twickenham," said Alan. "The main reason was that the previous caterers had problems serving the amount of beer they had to, given the rather

couple of pints.

bigger restaurant and from there Guss Payne, Alan's father, set up an outdoor catering company.

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At the same time May Fair catering came up for sale, a company which included the renowned Gunter caterers.

"We took them over, mainly for a wonderful range of silver equipment and the very old Gunter name," said Alan. "We changed the name of our company to Payne and Gunter and did a lot of research

"We were asked to take on the catering at Adidas Neo X Lite Shoes

Alan Payne ran the prestigious Payne and Gunter caterers for 35 years, taking over the family business from his father and grandmother before him.

saying There's thick snow here, should I still come?' I looked out the window and it was covered."

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"We took on a lot of temporary staff wherever we went, which was sometimes quite hazardous," explained Alan.

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facilities at Twickenham. When I was on holiday in Canada I had seen a machine which could pre pour a vast quantity of drink with a polythene wrap on the top. Using one of these

But with no more than 20 full time staff, things didn't always run smoothly.

Payne and Gunter also increased the number of meals served at the stadium from 500 to 8,000 by the time Alan sold the business in 1996.

Payne caterers began life as a coffee bar in Shepherds Bush under the guidance of Alan's grandmother. When the bar was bombed during World War II, the family were forced to move the business to a

But at the same time Payne and Gunter were developing their outdoor catering side.

"At one of our first varsity matches John was running the whole day. We had staff coming from all over the country. One team was coming from Birmingham and that morning at 4am I got a phone call

´╗┐catering tycoon Alan Payne From Richmond and Twickenham Times

In 1967 he married Judy and they moved to Mortlake where they began a family, before moving to East Sheen in 1974. Their children are Emma, 33, and Richard, 35.

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Alan ended up at the stadium offering free pints to the stewards who required food and asking them to return their plates before receiving the next course he was working with just one chef and one

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