Peyton was born and raised in County Mayo, his mother was the owner of a knitwear factory and was fond of cooking. Peyton attended Summerhill College in Sligo until he was 17 when he left home and went to New York where he was employed in a range of jobs including digging artesian wells, roofing and as a waiter. On returning home he gained a scholarship to Leicester Polytechnic, where he studied textiles.
After two years at Leicester Polytechnic, Peyton moved to London and with a partner opened two nightclubs, The Can in Brighton and Raw in London. In the 1990s he moved into restaurants. He opened the Atlantic Bar & Grill in 1994 and Coast in Mayfair in 1995. These were followed by Mash and Air in Manchester. Further developments saw Mash and Air opening in London in 1998 and in 1999 Isola in Knightsbridge. In 2002 Peyton opened a restaurant, Admiralty, in Somerset House's museum and art gallery. 2004 saw the opening of In the Park, a restaurant in St James's Park. The Peyton and Byrne company was born in 2006, which led to a further development of restaurants at national establishments. National Dining Rooms and National Café at the National Gallery, a cafe at the Wellcome Collection and the Wallace restaurant at the Wallace Collection among many others across London's galleries, museums and public buildings.
Not just content with restaurants, the business has also expanded to Peyton and Byrne bakeries which are now at six locations across London, including two stand alone bakery-cafés in the newly refurbished St Pancras International Station and St Giles near Covent Garden.
On 8 February 2013, when responding to questions on Channel 4 News about the quality of supermarket meat products, and referring to the Irish meat industry, stated Ireland was 'an airport for meat.' Furthermore, he said that he would never buy Irish beef, claiming that meat labelled as Irish was probably sourced in Indonesia.
In October 2016, following the loss of contracts including Kew Gardens and the British Library, Peyton and Byrne went into administration and was acquired by the French company Sodexo, but Peyton and 440 staff will remain with the company.
Great British Menu
Peyton is one of the three judges on BBC2's Great British Menu since its inception in 2006. He was described by Matthew Fort as having a "penchant for the spectacular and the idiosyncratic". He is also the author of two cookbooks: The National Cookbook: Recipes from the National Dining Rooms at the National Gallery (2009) and British Baking (2012).
"This dish isn't anywhere near a five [out of ten]. I'm going to give it a four."
Recipe for Success
In 2012 RTÉ launched a programme, "Recipe for Success", based on the idea of cooks turning a home recipe into a commercial product suitable for supermarket shelves. Peyton was involved in the programme as one of the mentors for the competitors.
In 2012 Peyton was awarded an honorary OBE for services to catering. Peyton said afterwards “I am thrilled to have received this award, it’s a magnificent honour. I am lucky enough to work in a business that I love alongside my family and to win this is the icing on the cake!"
- "Birthdays". The Guardian. Guardian News & Media. 26 Sep 2014. p. 43.
- Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Oliver Peyton, Peyton and Byrne, The Caterer, 1 July 2011
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- Great British Menu, Series 10, Episode 43
- Recipe for Success, Raidió Teilifís Éireann, 2012, retrieved 26 Sep 2014
- Irish restaurateur Oliver Peyton awarded honorary OBE, Department for Culture, Media & Sport, 9 July 2012, retrieved 26 Sep 2014
- Lynn Barber. "Peyton' place | Life and style". The Guardian. Retrieved 2016-10-18.
- Woods, Judith (2013-01-30). "Alex Polizzi, the Hotel Inspector: 'I need my fix of family life'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2016-10-18.
- Grigg, Cassilda (27 Nov 2009), My Perfect weekend: Oliver Peyton, The Daily Telegraph, retrieved 26 Sep 2014