After cooking for the Royal family for more than 15 years, top chef Darren McGrady has learnt a thing or two.
The author of Eating Royally, is on Skype with us from Dallas, Texas. Behind him, a vintage watercolour art of (perhaps the Tower Bridge) hangs on his crimson wall.
During our interview - for The Weekly's sister site Recipes Plus - McGrady says he worked in the bustling, energy-filled kitchens of Buckingham and Kensington Palaces, where he cooked for Queen Elizabeth, Princess Diana and the English Royal Family, for more than 15 years.
Here McGrady reveals 10 of the Queen's secret eating habits.
1. Royals Don't Eat Garlic
"We can never serve anything with garlic or too much onions," McGrady said.
"We also couldn't serve meat that was rare, as she liked her meat more well done."
Whenever having a Sunday Roast, McGrady and other chefs would ensure the ends were cooked perfectly for The Queen — the part of the meat she always takes.
2. The Queen Must Approve Every Recipe and Menu
Through a note, the Queen would routinely approve of proposed menus, recipes and courses and put a line through everything she didn't want to include.
"I found a new dish called 'Veiled Farmer's Daughter' and sent it up as a suggestion to the Queen and she could look at it and decide if was to her liking," Darren explained with a smile.
"She sent a note back saying who or what are the 'Veiled Farmer's Daughter'.
She has a very hands-on approach to the menu, McGrady said.
3. The Queen Doesn't Eat Starches, Potatoes or Pasta
Unless for special occasions and dinner parties, The Queen would avoid these foods.
Her daily eating menu typically consists of grilled fish or chicken with two types of vegetables. She is also a fan of big bowls of salad, oh, and don't forget fresh fruit.
4. Even Royal Pets have Standards
As one of his first travel assignments, McGrady and roughly 99 other staff members travelled with Queen Elizabeth for her annual summer stay in Balmoral Castle.
"I was so excited to be there," McGrady beamed. "Not only for the royal family, but to see her."
One morning, the head chef called McGrady in for the special task of preparing carrots for her Majesty. He was told to peel three carrots, chop them finger-length and trim the edges so they are perfectly tidy. He placed them delicately into a small bag and went back to the chef.
"She really likes her carrots, doesn't she?" McGrady recalls asking the head chef.
"He then replied, 'No, they are not for the Queen but for her horse'. That was my first job, cooking for The Queen's horse."
5. There is a "Royal Way" of Cooking
Though McGrady was by experience a Senior Chef, he started in Buckingham Palace as one of 20 on-staff chefs.
"It would be the same if Gordon Ramsay or anybody else went in there," McGrady explains.
"It's not that they don't trust you to cook, it's that they want your to learn the royal way of cooking."
McGrady explains that if he were to hypothetically send the Queen a Beef Stroganoff in Savoy style (heavy on onions and paprika) rather than the Buckingham Palace recipe of Beef Stroganoff (centuries old recipe of barely any onions and no paprika), the Queen would notice immediately and send it back. It was important that any chef start at the bottom and learn the authentic and traditional royal way of cooking.
"The Queen was like many elderly ladies in the sense that they like things the way they are, all the time," McGrady explained. "They don't like change."
6. The Royals Eat Seasonally
"You can send strawberries every day to The Queen during summer at Balmoral and she'll never say a word," McGrady said.
"Try including strawberries on the menu in January and she'll scrub out the line and say don't dare send me genetically modified strawberries. She absolutely does eat seasonal."
At Balmoral castle in the highlands of Scotland (The Queen's annual summer retreat), there is a special garden within the castle from which the strawberries and produce are grown.
6. The Queen isn't a Foodie
"She eats to live while Prince Philip is the one who lives to eat," McGrady claims.
"Prince Phillip loves to cook on the grill, he's a great chef."
The Queen on the other hand eats very small portions of her four meals throughout the day — except when it came to chocolate.
7. The Queen's Chocolate Cake Follows her Across the Country
McGrady reveals Her Majesty's favourite cake is Chocolate Biscuit.
"She'll take a small slice every day until eventually there is only one tiny piece, but you have to send that up, she wants to finish the whole of that cake," McGrady says.
Oh, and the staff not dare take a piece of her chocolate cake. McGrady says if a slice were missing, she would notice. Also, if Her Majesty were travelling to Windsor Castle and there was Chocolate Biscuit Cake left over, the senior chef would follow on a train with the cake in tow.
8. The State Banquets are Out of this World
The State Banquets are military-run with precision, meticulous details and the utmost punctuality, McGrady explained.
"The Queen's page would stand behind her Royal Majesty with a little zapper, and as soon as The Queen put down her knife and fork from the first course, he pressed a button that changed the traffic light colours and the footmen entered and started clearing the table," McGrady said.
"Even if you are not finished, the course is over."
Fun fact: Her Majesty's china dates back to the era of King George V and the early 1800s, while the knives and forks were silver and coated with pure gold.
10. The Queen Schools Humanity on How to Eat Fruit
"With a banana, she'll cut off the bottoms and cut the banana length-wise, and then cut the banana into tiny slices to eat with a fork," McGrady cited.
And it doesn't stop there, The Queen has found the ultimate way to eat pears.
"She eats her pears like boiled eggs," McGrady said. "She'll cut off the top and scoop out the insides with a spoon.
"There is no eating like a monkey at Buckingham Palace."
This article originally appeared on Recipes Plus
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