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Club de Chefs des Chefs
July 21, 2009 2:05 PM   Subscribe

"What it feels like to be at the stove creating dishes for some of the most powerful people on earth." Club de Chefs des Chefs is the elite fraternity of chefs to world leaders - including those who head the private kitchens of the United States President, Prince of Monaco, Queen of England, European Commission, the Kremlin, President of France, Chancellor of Germany and Great Hall of Beijing. Barely 30 members strong, the club meets this week in Italy, for the Club's annual gala dinner and food tour. Lisa Mullins of NPR's The World interviewed a few of them by phone from Rome today (Mark Flanagan of Buckingham Palace refused to reveal the Queen's favorite dish... a kitchen policy, lest she be served it at every public event ever after). Past gatherings have happened in France, Greece, Monaco; and the 2010 meeting takes place in Hong Kong. They wouldn't have you as a member... but don't let that stop your culinary envy.
posted by pineapple (42 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Bollocks. The Flickr photo link was of the Monaco meeting, not the French.
posted by pineapple at 2:09 PM on July 21, 2009


They wouldn't have you as a member

Finally! A club worthy of my membership!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:09 PM on July 21, 2009 [9 favorites]


The World is a co-production of PRI, the BBC, and WGBH in Boston, not NPR, though it is carried by many NPR stations.
posted by jedicus at 2:10 PM on July 21, 2009


While hardly a work of great literature, if you are into both food and politics then you might want to pick up Walter Schieb's book White House Chef: Eleven Years, Two Presidents, One Kitchen.

Schieb briefly mentions the Club de Chefs des Chefs. While he's too polite to air any really dirty laundry, the book is a fun, behind-the-scenes romp.
posted by donovan at 2:18 PM on July 21, 2009


The World is a co-production of PRI, the BBC, and WGBH in Boston

And on the seventh day, PRI, the BBC, and WGBH in Boston completed Their work which They had done, and They rested on the seventh day from all Their work which They had done.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:19 PM on July 21, 2009 [4 favorites]


Ahem. There has been no Queen of England since the Unification of the Crowns in 1707 under Queen Anne.

The director of my (former) school was once personal chef to the Queen Mum, has cooked privately for the Queen on many occasions (on Britannia, aboard the Concorde (!!!!!!), at Buck House, Windsor, Balmoral, Sandringham, Holyrood... the list goes on), as well as exec for a State Banquet honouring Ghana in 1980.

And he won't reveal her favourite dish either, goddammit. He would say that she prefers relatively simple foods, nothing too complex. For example, her State Banquet after the Coronation was essentially steak and salad (selflink), with ice cream for dessert. (And yes, some of that would be due to the hangover from war/postwar rationing).

I think there is a truly fascinating relationship between people in power and their private chefs (especially when the private chef also has very public duties vis a vis state dinners and such); on the one hand they are servants, no different than a gardener. But because they do what they do, they must also be privy to occasionally highly sensitive information regarding medical conditions, dietary requirements (including religious ones... hmm, maybe the White House chef should be asked if she cooks pork for the President--think that might be enough for the Freepers? ;)), personal likes and dislikes (it is known, for example, that HM doesn't like to eat dishes that can spatter--e.g. spaghetti--or with garlic in public, but what else does/doesn't she like?), and so on. And based on some anecdata, private chefs become a weird adjunct to the family, particularly when the family has children, due to the social nature of food and the conception that the kitchen is the heart of the home. Private chefs often become confidants, providers of tea and sympathy over late-night snacks.. it's a very interesting world, and what's most interesting to me is how many don't really talk about it. Gordon Ramsay spent some time as a private chef on a yacht in the Caribbean... and yet the most blatantly self-promotional of all celebuchefs says precisely nothing about it.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 2:21 PM on July 21, 2009 [10 favorites]


How long until a movie comes out about someone infiltrating this elite club and poisoning all of the world's leaders on the same night?
posted by educatedslacker at 2:21 PM on July 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


Mark Flanagan of Buckingham Palace refused to reveal the Queen's favorite dish... a kitchen policy, lest she be served it at every public event ever after.

I'm going to assume it's tacos. Because everyone likes tacos.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 2:22 PM on July 21, 2009 [9 favorites]


Mark Flanagan of Buckingham Palace refused to reveal the Queen's favorite dish...

Roast peasant, with nice chianti.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:24 PM on July 21, 2009


You mean peasant under glass?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:25 PM on July 21, 2009


Welsh rabbit, hold the rabbit.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:29 PM on July 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


They wouldn't have you as a member

I'm the king of Disobedistan, you insensitive clod!
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:29 PM on July 21, 2009


How long until a movie comes out about someone infiltrating this elite club and poisoning all of the world's leaders on the same night?

Been done, almost.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 2:30 PM on July 21, 2009


Ahem. There has been no Queen of England since the Unification of the Crowns in 1707 under Queen Anne.

Bollocks.
posted by the cuban at 2:40 PM on July 21, 2009


No doubt it was some lying adult bastard who told me when I was a gullible kid that the Queen was always served a "special" poached egg every morning. A hole had to be cut into the middle of the toast so that it perfectly framed the yolk, then the holey toast was laid gently over the egg.
(I loved that idea.)

And I love this post.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 2:40 PM on July 21, 2009


''Fads will come and go, but a plate of spaghetti in tomato sauce won't,'' said Fabrizio Boca. ''It's a simple dish but it must be made according to a few iron rules,'' he added.

Or, if you're Oliver Bartsch (Chef to Canada's Prime Minister), you can just use Jam-ato.
posted by Kabanos at 2:40 PM on July 21, 2009


Ahem. There has been no Queen of England since the Unification of the Crowns in 1707 under Queen Anne.

Bollocks.

Actually no. Anne was the last person to hold the title of Queen of England, a title which was put permanently into abeyance by the Acts of Union. Monarchs since then have borne variations on ...of the United Kingdom, and HM is (within the UK), Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her other Realms and Territories Queen etc. In her other realms it is some variation on Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom and $country Queen. At no time has she ever held, nor barring the secession of Scotland from the UK will any monarch ever hold again, the title of Queen of England.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 2:51 PM on July 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


(that 'bollocks' above should have been italicised to show it was a quote. stupid fingers.)
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 2:54 PM on July 21, 2009


The World is a co-production of PRI, the BBC, and WGBH in Boston

And on the seventh day, PRI, the BBC, and WGBH in Boston completed Their work which They had done, and They rested on the seventh day from all Their work which They had done listened to Car Talk.


FTFY.
posted by Netzapper at 3:11 PM on July 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


Having met a few chefs élites to the rich and powerful, what was universal among them was the need for therapy for post traumatic stress syndrome enduring the routine rage attacks, tantrums and perfectionist histrionics of their bosses, who were typical pathological narcissists and borderline personality disordered.

A couple of tiny anecdotes. One chef-to-the-big-wigs had worked for his boss seven straight weeks without a day off. No amount of blancs manges, lobster biqsues or mousses would get him a day's rest. So finally, exhausted, the chef took off for a 3 day break without telling the boss. When the chef returned his boss had, in a snit of high drama martyrdom at the outrage of being abandoned for several days, ordered $3000 worth of berries, fruits and veggies and was aswamp with heaps of rotting produce. The boss picked up a kitchen knife and literally chased the chef off the island.

Anecdote two: the boss had married a billionaire after decades of trying to snare the guy. When she hired a chef she routinely half-joked with him to make food to induce her high cholesterol husband's death. "Make it with heaps of clotted cream!"

Probably part of the chef-to-the-mega-bucked should be a course in forensic psychology and law in situations of duress.

In 1971 I knew one of the Queen's butcher's. He traded filched Buckingham Palace steaks for pot. I worked briefly as a live-in housekeeper for the pot dealer and loved it when The Queen's Butcher came to visit. Never tasted such succulent meat like that in my life before or since.
posted by nickyskye at 4:06 PM on July 21, 2009 [9 favorites]


I remember reading years ago that the Queen's favorite drink was Dubonnet with a twist. Now it's probably jello shots.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 4:26 PM on July 21, 2009


Her favourite* drink is still Dubonnet and gin, mixed 70/30, one ice cube, and a twist.**

*Or at least the one she drinks in public
*Citation: Monarchy: A Year With The Queen

posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 4:43 PM on July 21, 2009


nickyskye: every time you post, your life becomes more interesting. Lunch with WSB? Eating the Queen's meat? Please, write an autobiography. For us poor schlubs who never do things like that.
posted by hippybear at 4:46 PM on July 21, 2009 [2 favorites]


I can accept that "Queen of England" is not one of Elizabeth's formal titles. But England has a queen, no? And that queen is Elizabeth, no? So surely it is correct to say that "Elizabeth is the Queen of England" just as she is the Queen of New Zealand and the Queen of Belize. No?
posted by yoink at 5:40 PM on July 21, 2009


No?

No. England is not a sovereign state the way New Zealand and Canada are. Read DNAB's comment. The list of World Cup contenders does not map to actual countries. "England" is as much a country as Quebec is, which is to say, it depends on who you ask.

I worked briefly as a live-in housekeeper for the pot dealer and loved it when The Queen's Butcher came to visit.

Truth is stranger than fiction. I demand the novelization of this!
posted by GuyZero at 5:49 PM on July 21, 2009


Her favourite* drink is still Dubonnet and gin, mixed 70/30, one ice cube, and a twist.**

According to this wiki article on Dubonnet, it was the Queen Mother who liked that particular recipe. Although it does cite that the Queen likes Dubonnet and gin.

I don't have a copy of the book you cite, though... so, the wiki article may be wrong (stranger things have happened).
posted by Netzapper at 5:54 PM on July 21, 2009


I believe the Queen is partial to a drop from Vergelegen, the only wine estate visited by her during her 1995 state visit to South Africa. I don't know what her favourite meal would be but it would have to come from Duchy surely.
posted by tellurian at 7:10 PM on July 21, 2009


Netzapper: it's quoted in the book and in the 3-part documentary series for which the book was a companion volume.

tellurian: the Duchy belongs to Charles, not HM.

And what GuyZero said.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:21 PM on July 21, 2009


tellurian: the Duchy belongs to Charles, not HM.
I'm aware of that. I maintain that the Buck House kitchens would be stuffed with Duchy 'By appointment to her Majesty' produce.
posted by tellurian at 7:34 PM on July 21, 2009


Oh, and:

Hardman, Robert. A Year With The Queen. Simon & Schuster, 2007. pp 257.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:41 PM on July 21, 2009


tellurian: maybe. I know she bought a smegload of fruitcakes from Duchy Originals as Christmas presents for her staff within the past few years. Beyond that, Buck House is very mindful of budgeting (champagne comes from Tesco now, FFS) and Duchy products are somewhat spendy. I'm sure there's some, but..
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:42 PM on July 21, 2009


Here they're claiming ballotine of turkey as Liz's favourite Xmas lunch.
On preview: (champagne comes from Tesco now, FFS) Ebullire horribilis!
posted by tellurian at 7:47 PM on July 21, 2009


Netzapper: it's quoted in the book and in the 3-part documentary series for which the book was a companion volume.

and

Hardman, Robert. A Year With The Queen. Simon & Schuster, 2007. pp 257.

Thank you for correcting me.

Maybe you could correct the wiki page, also? With your citation?
posted by Netzapper at 8:02 PM on July 21, 2009


Here they're claiming ballotine of turkey as Liz's favourite Xmas lunch.

Here where?:P
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:31 PM on July 21, 2009


On the wikipedia link: "It is alleged that ballotine of turkey is a classic dish among high society England and is claimed to be the Queen's favourite Christmas lunch."
posted by tellurian at 8:35 PM on July 21, 2009


*knew one of the Queen's butchers.

Sans apostrophe. ack. (and aww shucks, thanks for the encouragement to write :)
posted by nickyskye at 9:00 PM on July 21, 2009


Oh sorry, I ignored the link b/c I had an instructor who was red-hot on the subject of ballotines, and thus know what one is (and Wikipedia cooking articles are godawful).
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:40 PM on July 21, 2009


No. England is not a sovereign state the way New Zealand and Canada are. Read DNAB's comment. The list of World Cup contenders does not map to actual countries. "England" is as much a country as Quebec is, which is to say, it depends on who you ask.

Hmmm....so is it true to say "England has no Queen"?
posted by yoink at 8:47 AM on July 22, 2009


Yes. The United Kingdom does; England does not, anymore than HM is e.g. the Queen of Kent. Nor does Scotland (though of course Wales has a Prince).
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:34 AM on July 22, 2009


Geez, MetaFilter, Elizabeth is the Queen of A Bunch of Stuff and thus has a fancy chef.

The real question is: What kind of beans does she prefer to overthink? Myself, I enjoy a good haricot vert.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:40 PM on July 22, 2009


One would imagine that HM avoids musical fruits, in public anyway. Unlike her mother, of course, who was good friends with Noel Coward:

While being escorted by Mr Coward one night, the Queen Mum noticed him looking appreciatively at a line of guardsmen. "I wouldn't if I were you, Noel," she murmured to him, "they count them before they put them out."
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:22 PM on July 22, 2009


abject thanks for the setup
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 7:22 PM on July 22, 2009


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