Exclusive: The Queen's sweet tooth revealed by royal chef Darren McGrady

By Ainhoa Barcelona

Despite the Queen's extensive world travels (she's visited 120 of the world's 196 countries!), her former royal chef Darren McGrady says the monarch isn't interested in trying new things and wouldn't fit the bill of an adventurous eater. Her Majesty prefers traditional British and French cuisine and has a particular soft spot for chocolate.

In an exclusive interview with HELLO! Online, Darren revealed the Queen's likes and dislikes and admitted that the 90-year-old royal is not really a foodie at heart.

"She is absolutely a chocoholic," said Darren. "Anything we put on the menu that had chocolate on, she would choose, especially chocolate perfection pie."


Queen Elizabeth II at the dinner table
"She is absolutely a chocoholic," said former royal chef Darren McGrady

"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.

"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."

Darren, who worked at Buckingham Palace for 11 years followed by Kensington Palace for four, added: "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.

Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth II
"She loved game, things like fillet steak with a mushroom whisky sauce," said the chef

"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."

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.

Queen Elizabeth II looking at a cake
The Queen is a fan of traditional British and French cuisine

"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.


"It's like any mom with a son or grandson coming home. If Prince William was coming for tea it would be a chocolate biscuit cake. He loved those."

Darren McGrady posing with a picture of Princess Diana
Darren cooked for the Queen at Buckingham Palace for 11 years

Darren, who is 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."

EXCLUSIVE: Inside dinner time with Princess Diana, Prince William and Prince Harry

Darren 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.

A table of afternoon tea
The chef has created a special afternoon tea menu to mark the Queen's birthday celebrationsin June

Before that Darren trained in his hometown of Nottingham and also worked at The Savoy in London. The chef has returned to the hotel to create a special menu, A Royal Afternoon Tea, to celebrate the Queen's birthday in June.

Guests will be invited to dine like Her Majesty and feast on some of the Queen's favourite dishes including jam pennies and chocolate biscuit cake.

The afternoon tea will run from 9 June, and Darren, who lives in Texas with his wife and three children, will be making a special appearance on Saturday 11 June in London, the day of Trooping the Colour.

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