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High Table director Julian Rowe dies

High Table director Julian Rowe dies

Julian Rowe, a leading light in the contract catering industry, has died aged 75.

Rowe enjoyed a long and successful career in the UK foodservice sector, following his education at Winchester and Cambridge.

After a stint at Peter Evans Eating House, where he met High Table founder Christopher Ballenden, he joined Sutcliffe Catering.

Three years later Rowe returned to the fledgling High Table as director, where he worked closely with Ballenden for the next 20 years until the company's sale to what is now Elior. He stayed on as chairman until his retirement in 1996.

Rowe was fondly known throughout the industry as "JR" and was renowned for his attention to detail and exacting standards, a legacy that lives on through many of those who had the pleasure of working with him, including Tim West and Mike Sunley at Lexington Catering, Robyn Jones and Alison Tyler at CH&Co, and Chris Stern of Stern Consultancy.

Tim West said: "Julian was an absolute gentleman and a great friend. He was always extremely supportive and provided wise counsel in enabling the business to grow, and he continued this interest socially.

"Julian engaged me in 1987 and mentored me [before we knew the meaning of the word[ and ever since has been a wonderful support."

Robyn Jones said: "I loved working with JR. No similarities to the American soap opera one at all - quite the opposite in fact! A kind and thoughtful man who always did what he thought was best. He will be missed by all ex-High Table gangs, especially Chris Ballenden. A great loss."

Chris Stern added: "He and Chris Ballenden were in some ways ahead of their time, running what would now be thought of as a boutique catering company, focusing on quality in the City of London.

"He had a fantastic commitment to quality and to doing business in what would now be considered to be an old fashioned, gentlemanly way. In fact, if I remember correctly, High Table didn't have a single formal contract with any of their clients, everything being done on a handshake.

"He truly was a pleasure to work for, setting a fine example and supporting a successful business in the most practical way. He was always self-effacing and probably quite shy, but inspired many of us to continue our careers keeping in mind what we had learned from him."

Rowe maintained a keen interest in the catering business and cherished his industry contacts and clients, as well as his love of cricket. He was also a director of the Hawk Conservancy near Andover, where he was held in high regard.

Rowe leaves a widow Sonja, two sons, two grandchildren and many friends.

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