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Royal chef praises 'frugal' Queen and reveals how she prevents food waste

Darren McGrady was also Princess Diana's royal chef

Aisha Nozari

Royal chef Darren McGrady, who was once Princess Diana's personal cook, has praised the "frugal" Queen and opened up about the monarch's impressive zero-waste approach. And it sounds like we could take a leaf out of Her Majesty's book, given the current coronavirus pandemic. 

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Speaking exclusively to HELLO!, Darren recalled: "One time at the palace, the Queen was going to the theatre, and she requested a snack. She wanted smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, and he [the server] sent half a lemon, and did a really beautiful garnish on the lemon, and the Queen took a squeeze of the lemon and said, 'Would you send this lemon back to the kitchen? I'm sure it can be used for something else.'"

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The Queen cuts herself a slice of cake 

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Her Majesty's frugal ways were likely born from living through the war and experiencing rationing. Darren said: "The nation imported 70 per cent of its food, like meat, cheese, sugar and everything from other countries. So obviously when the war started they were bombing away and trying to stop supplies getting in." And although this didn't affect the royal family, who lived in residences with their own farms – therefore making them self-sufficient – the Queen remained disciplined.

Palaces adopted new, resourceful approaches to feeding residents. "I know during that time, meat wasn't allowed to be served at lunchtime. It was just for dinner," Darren elaborates. "It was lots of vegetables, vegetable stews and things like that."  

Although rationing was essential, the Queen still found small ways to treat herself, as Darren revealed: "When the Queen got married in 1947, she was used to this rationing, and in fact, her special treat was to have strawberries grown at Windsor Castle under covers in the greenhouse. That was her special treat to go on the menu for pudding during the war years. It [the era] made the Queen so frugal."  

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