Royals — they’re just like us!
Okay, so maybe that’s a stretch! But when it comes to the royal family members’ palettes, they’re most likely craving the same everyday and affordable things that you are.
You know that bowl of cereal you pour yourself every morning? Turns out the Queen has been eating the same thing — especially if you find yourself fancying a bowl of Special K.
Kellogg’s, which has been the official cereal provider for the royal household for three monarchs, has become a staple in the palace — something that former royal Chef Darren McGrady knows all too well.
McGrady, who’s served everyone from Queen Elizabeth II to Princess Diana to Prince Phillip (“I loved cooking for Prince Philip he was a real foodie!”), met up with us to create some cereal-infused treats and dishes in honor of the wedding and they were as delectable as they were beautiful.
McGrady explained his specific role “chef to Queen Elizabeth for 11 years at Buckingham Palace and then four years with Princess Diana right until the day of the accident”, a job that he didn’t exactly apply for in the traditional way:
“I slept outside Buckingham Palace with my family to watch the royal wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana and it was while I stood there that I thought ‘How cool is this? I want to be a chef for the royal family.’ So when I got home I wrote to Buckingham Palace, got an interview and not long after was working in the kitchens at the palace.”
But McGrady didn’t exactly waltz onto the grounds of Buckingham Palace and waltz right into the kitchen. Even after he had secured his new gig, he had to work his way up to getting to the top of the chain:
“I started at Buckingham Palace, the royal family was at Balmoral Castle (where they go every summer for vacation) and they had 300 staff and I was actually put on the vegetable station cooking frozen vegetables for the staff ... I trained at the Savoy Hotel in London and was now working at the palace doing frozen vegetables for staff, it was awful I thought I made a big mistake … then I was told I was being moved to Balmoral Castle and that’s when I [first] got to see the royal family."
McGrady describes those early days as “nerve-wracking” but quickly got a handle on his role — before he knew it, he was able to whip up meals for everything from massive dinner parties to a quiet lunch for one:
“We never had such a thing as a typical day in the kitchen because one day we could have a state banquet for 150 people where all 20 of the queens chefs were involved, but the next day it could just be dinner or lunch for the queen on her own.
We did events at Buckingham Palace all the time for presidents … Regan, Clinton, Ford, both presidents Bush and they were very formal events but the weddings were so much easier, so much more fun — everyone was always in a happy mood.”
McGrady, who prepared the wedding breakfast for Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson (“I did a Clotted cream and strawberries”), explained that for all royal weddings, the family “tends to do favorite dishes and favorite foods, but also local ingredients, too.”
These favorite dishes were part of what inspired McGrady’s dishes with Kellogg’s:
“Princess Diana loved bread and butter pudding, that was her favorite. She said ‘Darren makes the best bread and butter pudding in the world!’ and that inspired me to do the imperial pudding — I used the Frosted Mini Wheats [as the bread] for the pudding … and William and Harry loved bananas so that sort of inspired me to add those in there too.”
And as for the Queen? Let’s just say she has the same exact sweet tooth that we have:
“The Queen is a chocoholic! So anything with chocolate on the menu she loved … that’s why I did the Special K Special Crown [bowl] because of the chocolate and the Windsor peaches and the Special K that she has for breakfast every morning. But she also loves game … anything from the Sandringham Estate, whether it’s pheasant, partridge, venison or even salmon from the river Dee.”
Watch Chef Darren create the Special K Special Crown Bowl below:
Though we won’t know for sure exactly what will be served at the royal wedding this weekend, McGrady was able to give us some major predictions as to what we can expect to see on the menu:
“When I cooked for Harry he was much younger. He loved the caramel banana cake, that was one of his favorites … when he came home from school I’d make the caramel banana cake. They were royal princes but they still had children’s palettes, anything pizza anything curry [Harry] liked — the actual reception after the wedding is going to be a sort of ‘small bowls’ which is sort of trending right now — but I think on the menu I think there will be lamb … lamb is from the Highgrove Estate, the Prince of Whales estate, so I think they’d like to have something like that … if I had to guess i’d probably say Shepard’s Pie which is a nursery food — William and Harry both love nursery food.”