Working for the Royal Family
I was working in Angus France when I received a phone call asking if I would be interested in a new opportunity? In my industry new opportunities came often but not in this form.
It took almost 6 months to be vetted and checked and not just my immediate family, they went back generations.
I left France bound for Heathrow and hopped in a black cab, I was so excited, I remember my heart racing with anticipation.
As the cab pulled into the side gates of Buckingham Palace, I looked up with my mouth wide open at the spectacular building that shadowed above me. This was home for the next 12 months!!!!!
I lived in the staff quarters of Buckingham Palace, which was separate to the Royal Family obviously, but it was close to the kitchens and all the areas we needed. We were busy and there where not many times available to go off-site. I will be honest I didn’t want to, I wanted to take all the opportunities that I possibly could and heading out into London was something I could at any other time of my life.
After the first month, the Queen Mother decided she wanted to move to Windsor and so I was asked to move to Windsor Castle and remain there until she wanted to return or when they had functions. I was more than happy to do this, I loved the idea of Windsor and living in a Castle. My room had everything I needed, and it was here I had my own maid to wash and prepare my chefs uniform and get anything I needed. My focus was to bake for the Queen Mother and develop the desserts for her 100th Birthday Party.
I worked alongside two other Pastry Chefs, the Head Pastry Chef and the Sous Pastry Chef and although we were a small team, we worked in cinque with each other and had a great professional relationship. We were creative and passionate and full of energy. There was not much time to relax but we didn’t need it and for me, I was in that kitchen from 7 am until I was kicked out.
A typical day started with my alarm going off at 5.30 am, I would shower and go and have breakfast that the chefs in the main kitchen had prepared for us. I would return to my room where my starch pressed chefs’ uniform would be waiting.
At 7 am I would be in the Pastry Kitchen getting everything going and switched on. My first job was to make the Iced Coffee and start making the scones, polish the fruit and go and pick the plates for the day. Bronze for breakfast, silver for lunch and gold for dinner. This meant going to the volt that was manned with security 24/7. I had to sign my life away for these plates so I was extra carious as I could and still can be a bit clumsy.
I would then return to the kitchen and plate the fruit, scones and homemade preserves, place on a trolley with the Ice Coffee and make my way through winding corridors to get to the maid’s section, it would the maids who would then serve this to the Queen Mother. This was her preferred breakfast every morning. If there were other Royals in residence, we would prepare what they requested. From fresh croissants (this meant a 6 am start) muffins, Danish Pastries to handmade muesli.
We did not prepare cereals and anything hot this was the job of the chefs in the main kitchen and the maids.
It was very rare that desserts were served at lunch, so it gave us time to develop recipes and prepare for the evenings as well as bake the bread rolls. This is when the chewy cookies were born as an afternoon tea option.
And evenings consisted of traditional French desserts such as Gateaux’s, Tortes, Tartlets and Bavarois.
The biggest honour was being there for the Queen’s Mothers 100th Birthday, seeing the setup, feeling the excitement in the Castle, as we all rushed around to make that event just perfect for the birthday lady, getting a spare moment to get changed and go and see the Royals walk to the church was amazing and still sends shivers down my spine. To think all these famous guests eat my desserts, petit fours and even my bread rolls. WOW.
So, this was life for 12 months and it was sad on my last day, although I wanted to stay it was time to move on and spread my wings. There was more to learn in the world and staying would have held me back and I would not have achieved all I have today.
Image by @hulkiokantabak