Royal Chef Darren McGrady Explains What It Takes To Be A Chef For The Royal Family - Exclusive

There aren't any Gordon Ramsays preparing the Queen's favorite salmon and cream cheese tea sandwiches in the kitchens of Buckingham Palace, per Express U.K. There are also no Massimo Botturas standing over the stovetop either, as former royal chef Darren McGrady explained to Mashed in an exclusive interview. That's not just because the royal family's daily meals are what McGrady described as "heavy, traditional French cuisine dishes."

Instead, said McGrady, getting a job as a chef for the royal family isn't about having what it takes to rack up Michelin stars, but more about who you know and what you are like. "I was surprised how easy it was to get a job [at Buckingham Palace]," McGrady reflected. "I thought I'd probably have to [go to] five or six [interviews] ... then maybe I [would] cook for their head chef at the time. Then maybe for one of the royal family. But no, I didn't cook for anyone."

The former royal chef — who spent a total of 15 years in the position — says that connections ultimately got him the job. "It's always the case of not what you know, but who you know," McGrady disclosed. "The assistant to the master of the household F branch [F for food] came originally from the Savoy group ... And he thought Savoy chefs were well trained, they had a background. I trained at the Savoy ... and he took me on." If McGrady's Savoy training got him through Buckingham Palace's doors, another very specific character trait kept him there. 

Royal chefs share these personality traits, according to Darren McGrady

What does it really take to be a chef for the British royal family? While Queen Elizabeth's chefs may not be culinary ninjas, they do all have something in common, Darren McGrady told Mashed. "I do think that when it comes to being a chef at the palace, 50% of actually becoming a chef there is your personality," he said. "Certainly in my days, because we had a very full nursery. We had William, Harry, Zara, Peter, Beatrice, Eugenie. All the children could come into the kitchen at any time. And if we had 20 Gordon Ramsays running around the kitchen, swearing and shouting, that would not have worked!" 

The cooking staff didn't only have to be gracious to the curious young royals, they also had to like each other, he added. "You're in London for six weeks, you go off to Balmoral for eight weeks, you go to Sandringham for two weeks, and then to Windsor again," McGrady explained. "You're just living out of a suitcase. You've got to get on, personality-wise, with everyone." 

There's another personality trait that all royal chefs share, according to McGrady: The ability to put aside one's self-importance. "You think that, 'Okay, well maybe we put Massimo Bottura in the kitchen.' Amazing chef, best chef in the world ... but he would still get complaints from the Queen," McGrady theorized. "Because when you are cooking for the royal family, it's not like it's your restaurant ... So you have to prepare the food the way she likes it ... There's no egos. There's no "Top Chef" saying, 'No, it needs garlic. I'm putting it in there.' That doesn't happen." 

Darren McGrady has packaged the royal family's culinary preferences in a box. To taste them, visit CrateChef. For more royal recipes and culinary inspiration, stop by the royal chef's website