Former Royal Chef Lays Bare the Secrets of the Buckingham Palace Kitchen

Posted on Daily Mail by Unity Blott. (View original article here.)

She may be about to celebrate her landmark 90th birthday, but the Queen might not be looking forward to her birthday spread as much as her guests.

If her former chef is to be believed, Her Majesty is ‘not a foodie at all’ and prefers throwing dinners to actually eating them.

In an exclusive interview with MailOnline, Darren McGrady – who went on to serve Diana, Princess of Wales and now runs his own catering company in Dallas, Texas – has laid bare the secrets of the Buckingham Palace kitchen

Former royal chef Darren McGrady - who went on to serve Diana, Princess of Wales and now runs his own catering company in Dallas, Texas - has laid bare the secrets of the Buckingham Palace kitchen

Former royal chef Darren McGrady – who went on to serve Diana, Princess of Wales and now runs his own catering company in Dallas, Texas – has laid bare the secrets of the Buckingham Palace kitchen

Darren (middle row, second left) said of his Buckingham Palace days: 'They were long, hard days. You might be working from 7am to 10pm, but you felt like you were part of a state banquet, all that pomp and pageantry'

Darren (middle row, second left) said of his Buckingham Palace days: ‘They were long, hard days. You might be working from 7am to 10pm, but you felt like you were part of a state banquet, all that pomp and pageantry’

‘She’s not a foodie at all,’ Darren revealed. ‘She eats to live; it’s Prince Philip that lives to eat. He loves food, he’s interested in food, he wants to know where it comes from. The Queen, not so much.’

But he added that the Queen was always very much at the helm of catering at Buckingham Palace, overseeing the ‘menu book’ which was sent to her two or three times a week for the coming days.

‘The menu book was sent up to her and she’d put a line through the ones she didn’t want,’ Darren recalled, explaining that the monarch played an even bigger parts in state banquets.

‘She’d oversee the full menu, choose what she wanted – do we have enough pheasant, grouse, partridge? She loved food from the estate and to see her own produce on the menu,’ he said.

‘She loved the hosting side of the event. Garden parties were huge we’d have to do so much food, scones and pastries, ice cream made fresh. ‘

When she held diplomatic receptions, Darren – who was one of 20 chefs – would be tasked with whipping up canapés and appetisers for 2,000 to 3,000 people.

Whenever the Queen threw lavish diplomatic receptions, Darren - who was one of 20 chefs - would be tasked with whipping up canapés and appetisers for 2,000 to 3,000 people in one night

Whenever the Queen threw lavish diplomatic receptions, Darren – who was one of 20 chefs – would be tasked with whipping up canapés and appetisers for 2,000 to 3,000 people in one night

Darren, who runs TheRoyalChef.com (pictured centre) revealed that on a 'normal day' in at the palace there would be eight to ten chefs working in the kitchen; but for state banquets they'd have all 20 chefs on duty

‘The best ones were state banquets when there was a king, queen or president visiting,’ Darren said. ‘That’s when they’d break out the Rockingham china from Queen Victoria’s coronation.’

‘(The Queen) was just like any other mum at home, hosting friends for the weekend. She’d oversee it all – she’d come in and see the dining table and check that it was all in order.

‘For us chefs, we could have just done fish and chips and it would still have looked amazing.’

Darren, who runs TheRoyalChef.com, revealed that on a ‘normal day’ in at the palace there would be eight to ten chefs working in the kitchen; but for state banquets they’d have all 20 chefs on duty.

‘They were long, hard days,’ he recalled. ‘You might be working from 7am to 10pm, but you felt like you were part of a state banquet, with all that pomp and pageantry.’

He also revealed that, while the Queen adored serving game from the estate, she hated eating garlic and it was banned from the table when she was present.

Darren with some of the Queen's corgis. He revealed that, while the Queen loved serving game from the estate, she hated eating garlic - and spicy food - and it was banned from the table when she was present

Darren with some of the Queen’s corgis. He revealed that, while the Queen loved serving game from the estate, she hated eating garlic – and spicy food – and it was banned from the table when she was present

Darren (far left, second row back) with the Queen and Princess Margaret. He said the best events were 'when there was a king, queen or president visiting. That’s when they'd break out the Rockingham china'

Darren (far left, second row back) with the Queen and Princess Margaret. He said the best events were ‘when there was a king, queen or president visiting. That’s when they’d break out the Rockingham china’

A hand-signed photograph from the Princess of Wales. After serving the Queen for 11 years, Darren went on to cook for Diana as well as Princes William and Harry. He now runs his own catering business in Dallas, Texas

A hand-signed photograph from the Princess of Wales. After serving the Queen for 11 years, Darren went on to cook for Diana as well as Princes William and Harry. He now runs his own catering business in Dallas, Texas

The former royal chef has outed Her Majesty as a 'chocoholic' whose favourite dessert was something called a 'chocolate perfection pie' - a pastry case lined with meringue, cinnamon and chocolate cream

The former royal chef has outed Her Majesty as a ‘chocoholic’ whose favourite dessert was something called a ‘chocolate perfection pie’ – a pastry case lined with meringue, cinnamon and chocolate cream

Too much pressure for one chef on Bake Off Creme de la Creme

‘We could never serve garlic to the queen but Prince Philip loved it,’ he said. ‘If we were at Balmoral and she was out, we’d slather his steak in garlic.

‘But when she was at the table, there was no garlic at all. She was very Victorian and believed when she was brought up that you don’t eat garlic – because if you were holding an audience the next day, you didn’t want to be breathing garlic. It was seen as anti-social.’

He also said that the monarch – who insists that the menu is written in French – preferred ‘very bland’ food and would avoid anything spicy, and that her ideal meal would be venison medallions with a whisky mushroom cream sauce, rice and salad.

Darren also outed Her Majesty as a ‘chocoholic’ whose favourite dessert was something called a ‘chocolate perfection pie’ – a pastry case lined with meringue, cinnamon and chocolate cream.

‘Us chefs loved that one,’ he recalled. ‘If there were any left over and they got sent back to the kitchen, we’d gorge into them.’

Darren says t the monarch - who insists that the menu is written in French - prefers 'very bland' food and avoids anything spicy, and that her ideal meal would be venison medallions with a whisky mushroom sauce

Darren says t the monarch – who insists that the menu is written in French – prefers ‘very bland’ food and avoids anything spicy, and that her ideal meal would be venison medallions with a whisky mushroom sauce

The chef recalled one incident when a senior colleague, working at Windsor Castle, deliberately dropped a chocolate soufflé on the floor to avoid getting in trouble after the dessert failed to rise in the oven

The chef recalled one incident when a senior colleague, working at Windsor Castle, deliberately dropped a chocolate soufflé on the floor to avoid getting in trouble after the dessert failed to rise in the oven

Darren says that the Queen was always very much at the helm of catering at Buckingham Palace, overseeing the 'menu book' which was sent to her two or three times a week for the coming days

Darren says that the Queen was always very much at the helm of catering at Buckingham Palace, overseeing the ‘menu book’ which was sent to her two or three times a week for the coming days

He recalled one incident when a senior colleague, working at Windsor Castle, deliberately dropped a chocolate soufflé on the floor to avoid getting in trouble after the dessert failed to rise in the oven.

‘He sent the menu to Her Majesty with a pastry dessert,’ Darren said. ‘But the Queen crossed out “pastry” and wrote “chocolate soufflé”. So he was stressing about it.

‘The Queen was in the next room with a guest. He put it in the oven, and when he opened the oven the soufflé hadn’t risen. So he lifted it out of the oven and dropped it, called the Queen’s page and said: “Sorry I dropped it, it will have to be ice cream instead.”‘

And as for her Majesty’s tipple of choice? Wine is firmly off the menu, according to Darren. ‘She was never big on wine at all,’ he said. ‘She loved gin and Dubonnet, as did the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret.

‘But she’s not a big wine drinker, so at state banquets she didn’t drink much at all. If she was having a quiet dinner with the family, she’d have just a small glass of sweet German wine.’

CHOCOLATE PERFECTION PIE: THE QUEEN’S FAVOURITE DESSERT

Makes one pie (eight portions)

For the pastry:

  • 1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
  • ¼ cup vanilla sugar
  • 1 stick unsalted butter (cut into small pieces)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 Tbs heavy cream

For the filling:

  • 2 eggs
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ tsp white wine vinegar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 6 ounces Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate (1 ½ bars)
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 2 ounces Ghirardelli white chocolate – Grated (1/2 bar)

Darren has outed Her Majesty the Queen as a 'chocoholic' whose favourite dessert was something called a 'chocolate perfection pie' - a pastry case lined with meringue, cinnamon and chocolate cream

Darren has outed Her Majesty the Queen as a ‘chocoholic’ whose favourite dessert was something called a ‘chocolate perfection pie’ – a pastry case lined with meringue, cinnamon and chocolate cream

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and then prepare the pastry case/shell. In a large  bowl add the flour and sugar and rub in the butter to resemble fine crumbs. Add the egg yolk and cream and form the paste into a ball.
  2. Roll out the paste and line a 9 inch flan ring, then part bake the flan.
  3. Prepare the filling – Place a mixing bowl over a pan of boiling water (like preparing hollandaise) and add 2 eggs, ½ tsp cinnamon, ½ cup sugar, ½ tsp vinegar and the salt. Whisk until the mixture starts to foam and then remove the bowl from the top of the pan to a cool surface. Continue whisking until the mixture reaches the ribbon stage. Pour onto the base of the flan and return to the oven until the filling has risen and is firm to the touch – about 15 minutes. Remove from the oven to a cooling rack and allow the filling to sink back into the shell. This is the first layer of the flan.
  4. Melt the 6 ounces of chocolate and add the water and egg yolks. Whisk until combined. Spoon half of the chocolate mix over the top of the sunken filling and return the flan to the oven for a further 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow the flan to cool completely. This is the second layer of the flan.
  5. Beat the cream and cinnamon until stiff and carefully spread half of the mix into the flan. This is the third layer.
  6. Fold the remaining cream and cinnamon mix into the remaining chocolate mix and spread into the flan. This is the fourth layer. Sprinkle on the grated white chocolate and Refrigerate until set.

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