Why Chef Darren McGrady Made 150 Plates Of Food For The Queen

Buckingham Palace may seem rather empty today as Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her 96th year around the sun at her country estate in Norfolk, CNN reports. The occasion is being referred to on social media as the #PlatinumJubilee, as it coincides with Her Majesty's 70th year on the throne. 

No celebration is complete without a feast, and as we laypeople know from Hollywood depictions of Britain's royal family, the staffs of English monarchs certainly know how to prepare a table with all manner of first-rate victuals. In this case, we have no doubt that the lady of the hour — who is famously vocal about her food preferences, including her disdain for pizza which is on the Queen's forbidden foods list, has put in requests with the kitchen. But this particular birthday may be more laid back than the ones she's spent at her usual London digs. "After a certain age you get bored of birthdays," Her Majesty's grandson Prince Harry told CNN.

When asked about past royal banquet events, however, former royal chef Darren McGrady told Coffee Friend that making dinner was no simple affair. His staff would prepare no fewer than 150 dishes for a single occasion, and only one of them would make it to the Queen's plate. 

Cooking for the Queen is no easy task

Per chef Darren McGrady, preparing for a royal event is similar to a high-stakes cooking show. McGrady, who served as England's royal chef for 15 years (which included the tenure of the late Princess Diana), told Coffee Friend that "there were no food tasters" involved in the meal prep process, so his staff would whip up a staggering number of dishes, up to 150 at times, for Her Highness and her guests (per The Scottish Sun). The Queen's page would pick one at random, "that way," explained McGrady, "if you were to tamper with the food you would have to tamper with all of them." 

Furthermore, if his team wanted to try out a new recipe, they would have to run it by the Queen first. Otherwise, McGrady said that she would "[stick] with a lot of the same dishes throughout the week," which were often "healthy, low-carb affairs." 

With all the action happening in the kitchen, important steps could sometimes get overlooked. McGrady recalls an instance when he forgot to get the Queen's approval for a new recipe. "It was at Balmoral and during the strawberry season," he recalls. He sent up the new dish — a plate of strawberries "with a cinnamon muesli on the top" — and Her Highness passed on a note to the kitchen inquiring about the mysterious newcomer before taking a bite. It seems cooking for the Queen can be quite difficult, as a queen can never be too careful.