7 June 2012

Interview with Darren McGrady, former Royal Chef

This year is not just the year of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee but also, the lesser known occasion of the 250th anniversary of the humble sandwich. In light of this, former Royal chef, Darren McGrady has teamed up with Flora to create a special Flora Celebration Sandwich, one that is quite literally fit for a Queen. Therefore, after a weekend of royal madness, Darren has given us at PINCH an insider’s scoop on what the Royals actually eat.

Q. It sounds like a very decadent sandwich for a very decadent occasion. How did you come up with the filling?

A. When I was commissioned by Flora to create this ‘Royal’ sandwich I wanted it not only to look and taste good but also to be authentic and include ingredients that were favourites of The Queen… and literally from her back garden. This inspired my Flora Celebration Sandwich of roast fillet of juniper crusted Balmoral Estate venison, guinea fowl pate, pea shoots and a Gin and Dubonnet beetroot and apple relish.

The Queen adores game, especially when it comes from her own estate at Balmoral. It would be on the royal menu at least twice, sometimes three times a week and ‘Gin and Dubonnet’ is Queen Elizabeth’s favourite drink. She has a glass before almost every dinner. Pea shoots (grown in the Balmoral private gardens) are added for colour and texture.

Q. Has/will the Queen be sampling it herself?

A. I hope the chefs on the royal kitchens make it for her once she sees the recipe; it has all of her favourite foods in there after all.

Q. What were the Queen’s favourite meals from when you were working at the Palace?

A. She loved dishes like Gleneagles pate, Gaelic steaks, and chocolate perfection pie.

Q. Do the Royals have any particular likes/dislikes?

A. The queen doesn’t like garlic or any spicy foods.

Q. Do the Royals always eat together?

A. When they can, but often, each member of the royal family is hosting an event in a different part of the palace.

Q. Have you had any strange requests in regards to foods/meals?

A. Goat meat curry was probably one of the strangest.

Q. Where did the recipe for the infamous chocolate biscuit cake come from?

A. It’s an old family recipe that every member of the family loved. I was thrilled when William chose it because the recipe is in my book Eating Royally.