No one knows the royal family’s diet better than the royal chefs who cook for them. Former royal chef Darren McGrady worked at Buckingham Palace, where he worked his way up from cooking for the royal corgis to catering the royal family’s menu. After spending 11 years working for the royals, particularly Queen Elizabeth, McGrady has some serious insight into the inner workings of the royal family, including the ways security keeps the queen’s food from being poisoned.
Former Royal Chef Tells All
Chef Darren McGrady started working at Buckingham Palace when he was 20 years old and continued to work for the royal family for 11 years, during several of which he worked for the late Princess Diana before her death in 1997.
In his exclusive interview with Coffee Friend, he explained that one of his first jobs was “making food for the Royal corgis and when I got to Balmoral, peeling carrots for the Queen’s horse. You really start at the bottom.” From cooking for the royal pets and livestock, McGrady worked his way up to finally serving food that would reach the human members of the royal family.
While some may think that it’s the royal chefs who come up with the menu, it’s actually something that Queen Elizabeth herself controls. “The Queen picked her own menu. There was quite a regimented process and The Queen stuck with a lot of the same dishes throughout the week,” If we had a new recipe for a dish, we would have to send the whole recipe up to the Queen and she would look through it.”
How Queen Elizabeth Communicates With Chefs
Once, McGrady recalled, he made the mistake of sending up a recipe to the queen that she hadn’t approved of, and she made note of the mistake with her famously dry humor. “There was one time I forgot to send a new recipe to Her Highness. It was at Balmoral and during the strawberry season,” he said.
“I’d sent up the new dish with a regular dish and a note came back to the kitchen. That’s how the Queen communicated with us and it read, ‘Who or what are the veiled farmer’s daughters?’ That was the name of the dish. It was strawberried with a cinnamon muesli on the top, which she ended up eating once she knew what it was.” It’s nice to know the queen is open to trying new things, as long as she knows what they’re about.
Are There Royal Taste Testers?
McGrady was also asked if the queen or other members of the royal family made use of food tasters to ensure her meals hadn’t been poisoned, but he quickly set the record straight, explaining, “There were no food tasters, no. Some royals had their food prepared separately away from guests at big banquet events.”
When it came to the queen, the security measures were much more stringent, as they should be when it comes to the 95-year-old monarch. With the queen, McGrady explained, “we would prepare 150 plates and the Queen’s page would come in and pick one at random. That way, if you were to tamper with the food you would have to tamper with all of them.”
While the measure was to keep the queen safe from poison or other tampering, it also pushed the crew of royal chefs to put their best into each plate. “From our perspective, it also meant we had to get the same standard across every plate, not knowing which one the Queen would be eating,” he insisted. It must have been a lot of pressure to get things right not just once, but 150 times! But that’s par for the course when it comes to working for royalty.
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