Cooking for The Queen ‘the most stressful experience of my life’ says Ritz chef

Serving dinner to The Queen for her 80th birthday was the ‘most stressful experience of my life’, says head chef at the Ritz, John Williams.

Mr Williams spoke to FEMAIL about his experiences as a chef at one of the most prestigious restaurants in London, and he revealed what certain diners prefer to eat.

The head chef at the Ritz said cooking for The Queen was very stressful. Martin Pettitt

The head chef at the Ritz said cooking for The Queen was very stressful. Martin Pettitt

He loves cooking for Her Majesty, though she is not a regular guest. “The best person I’ve ever cooked for is without a doubt The Queen,” he said.

“I made a four-course meal centred around lamb for her 80th birthday at The Ritz and it was possibly the most stressful experience of my life!”

A private room was booked out for family and close friends to celebrate in December 2006. Guests included exiled King Constantine of Greece, Lord and Lady Nicholas Windsor and Peter and Autumn Phllips, who were not married at the time.

The party was organised by Lady Anson, The Queen’s cousin and sister to the late photographer, Patrick Lichfield; she is something of the Royal party planner, and even arranged the celebration for the 50th anniversary of The Queen’s Coronation, also held at the Ritz. 

“People might say celebrities are stressful to cook for, but no one comes with as much pressure as The Queen. You need perfection – on that sort of occasion, we have to make sure everything will go to plan so we rehearse the whole event several times.”

The five-star hotel & restaurant serves 85 for lunch, and 95 for dinner and breakfast each day. The dining room features marble columns, floor to ceiling windows, ceiling frescoes, gilded neoclassical statues and a garland chandelier for a special feel to the room.

Prince Charles is more of a regular in the restaurant and Williams praised the Prince’s palate.

The Ritz Restaurant dining room. (The Ritz)

The Ritz Restaurant dining room. (The Ritz)

“I love cooking for the Prince of Wales.” the MBE chef says. “He’s been in to The Ritz many times. He has a fantastic palate, did you know?

“I once cooked something for him and he was able to break down the entire sauce and understand it structurally – naming the ingredients in the sauce exactly. Lots of chefs couldn’t do that!”

The Ritz was where Prince Charles and Camilla made their first public appearance together as a couple in 1999; they were engaged in 2005.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have enjoyed Williams’ food in the past. He says they tend to sit in the shadows and maintain a low profile. “Kate’s tastebuds are very simple,” he says knowingly.

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