After cooking for the Queen at Buckingham Palace for 11 years, former royal chef Darren McGrady knows a thing or two about Her Majesty's diet, including her likes and dislikes.
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Unlike her husband Prince Philip, he revealed the monarch is not a foodie and prefers traditional British and French cuisine. But one food she will never turn down is chocolate – and we don't blame her!
In an exclusive interview with HELLO! Online, Darren unveiled exactly what foods the Queen ate behind closed doors.
"She is absolutely a chocoholic," he said. "Anything we put on the menu that had chocolate on, she would choose, especially chocolate perfection pie."
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Darren, who also worked at Kensington Palace for four years, said of the Queen's savoury choices: "For a main course she loved game, things like Gaelic steak, fillet steak with a mushroom whisky sauce, especially if we did it with venison.
The former royal chef revealed the Queen loves chocolate!
"For a first course she loved the Gleneagles pâté, which is smoked salmon, trout and mackerel. She loved using ingredients off the estate and so if we had salmon from Balmoral from the River Dee, she'd have that, it was one of her favourites. We used a repertoire of dishes, mainly British and French food. We cooked a lot of traditional French food like halibut on a bed of spinach with a Morney sauce."
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The chef added: "But the Queen never was a foodie. She always ate to live rather than live to eat. Prince Philip was the foodie. He'd want to try any new dishes all the time and got excited about new ingredients whereas the Queen, if we had a new recipe, she'd have to look at the whole recipe before saying, 'Yes ok let's try it'. But for the most part she stuck to the same dishes week in week out."
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A red leather-bound book of menus, written in French, would be sent up to the Queen each week, containing a wide variety of recipes. "We prepared the menus three days ahead so we could get the food in," said Darren. "The chefs would pick the menus and she would put a line through the ones she didn't want. Sometimes she'd put a line through it all and put something different, like if she was having dinner with Prince Andrew, his favourite was crème brulee with Sandringham oranges.
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"It's like any mum with a son or grandson coming home. If Prince William was coming for tea it would be a chocolate biscuit cake. He loved those," he said.
Darren worked at Buckingham Palace for 11 years and Kensington Palace for four
The author of Eating Royally concluded: "Cooking at Buckingham Palace was amazing. It was everything I expected it to be. They have the most amazing produce, the best quality food, the best ingredients to work with. Just little things like picking up the phone and calling Harrods and asking for a rack of lamb with a two-inch eye of meat and six bones – you got everything you wanted."
Darren trained in his hometown of Nottingham and worked at The Savoy in London, but he decided to apply for a job at the palace after camping out on the Mall on the eve of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding. It was then that he thought how "amazing" it would be to work in the royal kitchens, and a few weeks later he went in for an interview and secured a job.
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