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16 April 2014

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Venue Vendor: Andrew Birnie

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Meet Andrew Birnie, general manager at Café de Paris

Café de Paris, 3 Coventry Street, London, W1D 6BL, tel: 020 7395 5807

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I have worked here for six years, but it really doesn’t feel like it. Before this, I worked in corporate travel and spent my life in airports.

I’ve been involved with events since a young age, whether it was helping people organise charity days or setting up conferences and meetings. I’ve always been the one to set up friends’ birthdays.

The first professional event I organised was a charity fun day at a water park in Spain. I set up live music performances, organised local suppliers to provide the goods and produce, and coaches to bring people in.

My greatest moment was organising a Christmas party and having Blondie perform. Debbie Harry is an idol of mine, and being able to meet her, set her up and watch her perform was amazing.

The most important thing I’ve learned is that you have to try and give the customer what they want and more. Service is a big part of selling; the two go hand in hand.

Café de Paris is one of a kind, and it has so much history. Just about everybody in the entertainment industry has performed here, from Marlene Dietrich to Frank Sinatra, and the venue even hosted Princess Margaret’s 21st party.

I’m inspired by the unpredictability of the job. While you can diarise and plan ahead, the nature of this business means that things can change at the very last minute.

It’s important to keep happy thoughts in your head, so I try to avoid the newspapers in the morning and just get myself a nice book instead. I find that motivating.

The best advice I ever received was to double check everything. You have to make sure that something you might have set up months before still has its belts and braces on.

I have a hobby in sugar-craft and chocolate. I make things like celebration cakes and truffles and other sweets.

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