Eating royally with Diana

Chef Darren McGrady shares his most special memories of Princess Diana, including the delicious recipes he whipped up for the British blue bloods in his book Eating Royally – Recipes and Remembrances from a Palace Kitchen .

by: Food24 | 28 Aug 2007

McGrady began working for the Royal Family as a pastry chef and quickly moved up the ranks to serve as Diana's personal chef until her death in 1996.

He describes Diana as mischievous, a loving mother and wonderful, generous employer. He also shares stories of the Princesses' culinary mishaps and disasters and all her favourite foods and recipes in the book.

Diana's food choices often were simple, including stuffed eggplant and peppers, steamed trout, roasted vegetables and chicken. Besides the amaretto-flavoured bread pudding she loved, she often opted for summer pudding if she was having lunch guests.

She liked baked beans on whole wheat toast for breakfast because there was lots of protein and no fat – just carbs she could work off at the gym. Baked potatoes often were on her plate but they were plain or sprinkled lightly with a little vinaigrette dressing. She snacked on yogurt and grain bars and fresh fruit.

The paparazzi
McGrady was also privy to Diana's constant torment by the paparazzi.

"One occasion she had driven to a friend's home for a visit. When she came out of the house, big yellow plastic cones had been set in front and in back of her car. She moved them aside and got into the car. While she was getting in, a man put the cones back in place.

"Diana got out again and moved the cones again. When she got into the car, he put the cones back in position.

"The same thing happened a third time. And then a fourth time, Diana got out of the car, yelled at him to leave her alone, and burst into tears. That was the moment he was waiting for.

"A photographer captured a photo of Diana in total distress, and probably got enough from selling that one shot to pay for his retirement," McGrady concludes.

Was Diana a good cook?
Although Diana liked trying new foods, she simply wasn't a cook. "When I prepared foods for her to reheat for herself over the weekends, instructions had to be very simple. She couldn't handle preparations that went on for two steps or more," says the chef.

He writes of the time she tried to cook pasta. When the water boiled over, it extinguished the stove's pilot light. Diana didn't think anymore of it until she smelled gas the next morning and summoned help from the local fire brigade. "When I came back to work on Monday, the princess informed me that she had 12 hunky men in her house while I was gone."

And the Queen
Darren spent 11 years cooking for the Queen before moving to the Kensington Palace kitchen.

The Queen supposedly disliked sandwiches cut into basic rectangles, because it reminded her of coffins.

"If Diana and the boys were visiting Granny and wanted ice cream, the Queen would call her page, who in turn would call the head chef. The head chef would call the pastry kitchen and the pastry chef would in turn call the silver pantry for some silver dishes to present it on. The ice cream would be formed into decorative quenelle shapes and placed in a silver dessert dish. Then it was off to the linen room to get the proper napkin. Eventually, a footman would arrive to take the ice cream up to the royal dining room some 15 minutes later."

McGrady has donated his advance and all profits from the sales of Eating Royally to the Elizabeth Glazer Pediatric Aids Foundation. To purchase the book go to

(Sources:, and

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