THE QUEEN’S CHEF
Born in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, he was the son of Bryan and Marion and he had one brother.
After finishing school, Graham went to catering college where he qualified as a chef.
He went to work at the Connaught Hotel in London where he was trained under the chef Michel Bourdin. Graham rose to become Chef Poissonnier at the hotel.
By now, he was married to Joy and they had a son and daughter. Unfortunately, the marriage ended in divorce.
Then, Graham was persuaded to take a job at Buckingham Palace where he became Queen Elizabeth’s personal chef.
He loved working for the Queen and Prince Philip. He refused to divulge any secrets. “I’ve signed the Official Secrets Act and anything to do with the Royal Family is taboo.”
This all changed in 2002, when there was a Channel 5 documentary on the royal kitchens. The Queen herself gave him permission to divulge some (limited) secrets.
The Royal Family liked basic food – not too hot, with medium sized portions.
The Queen and Prince Philip always had a traditional English breakfast at 8:00am. Lunch was always at 1:15pm, High Tea at 5:00pm (usually with scones or the Queen’s favourite – potted shrimps). Supper was later in the evening – a more moveable feast.
Presentation of food was important, but it had not to be ostentatious.
The Royal couple enjoyed flaked salmon and mayonnaise – but garlic was definitely not on the menu.
The Queen’s favourite meal was a version of fish and chips – Haddock St. Germain. It is bits of pan-fried haddock in breadcrumbs, with fries and Bearnaise sauce.
The Queen was fond of ‘penny sandwiches’. Graham made them circular, cutting the edges off. Tradition has it that if sandwiches with edges were served to the monarch, it foretold the toppling of the crown of England.
It was also Graham’s job to feed the Royal dogs. The gun dogs got tripe whilst the corgis got chopped up lamb’s liver, rice and cabbage.
Graham was also summoned to Sandringham to prepare the Royal’s Christmas lunch. The Queen did not like mince pies or christmas pudding, so Graham delighted in preparing unusual desserts such as pina colada mousse with raspberry coulis.
After a couple of years working at Buckingham Palace, Graham moved to be the main chef on the Royal Yacht Britannia.
From there, he was summoned to prepare the wedding breakfast of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer, in 1981.
He served up quenelles of brill in lobster sauce, followed by lamb-mousse stuffed chicken breast, and the meal was finished with strawberries and cream.
Charles and Diana were so impressed with Graham that when they returned from their honeymoon, they persuaded him to join them as their chef at Highgrove House. He served them for 6 years.
He prepared different breakfasts. Prince Charles liked fruit salad and a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice, followed by muesli and fruit with milk from the Royal Dairy at Windsor. He would then have toast cut into 6 pieces with 6 different types of honey on them.
Princess Diana had muesli, fruit yoghurt, toast, jam or marmalade and instant coffee.
Princes William and Harry were served soft-boiled eggs with vegemite soldiers.
If Prince Charles was going hunting, Graham would prepare a breakfast box for him with honey, cereal and dried fruit in it.
He once had to tell a young Prince William off for throwing golf balls at him.
Despite that, Graham had a happy time at Highgrove. He said he never detected any tension between the couple, except over potatoes. The princes liked to have a jacket potato smothered in melted cheese for their lunch – and their mother would join them. Charles found this absolutely disgusting.
Princess Diana was very careful about what she ate. Graham said he was responsible for her slim appearance on the front covers of many magazines and newspapers.
In 1987, Graham resigned as he decided it was time to go back to cooking for the public.
By now he was married again – to Heather – and they had a son.
He went to run the kitchens at Inverlochy Castle, near Fort William in Scotland. It was there that he gained his Michelin Star.
From there, he moved to the Treasure Beach Hotel in Barbados followed by becoming Head Chef at the Calabash Hotel in Grenada.
Then, he came back to England to run his own establishment, The George, at Wormald Green near Harrogate. The walls were lined with royal memorabilia.
His final position was working for the Duke of Bedford at Woburn Abbey.
Graham was accepted into the ‘Acadame Culinaire de France’ and was also a member of the elite society, the ‘Club des Chefs des Chefs’, who had all cooked for kings, queens, princes, princesses and presidents.
RIP – Royal Inspired Puddings