From Royal Kitchen To Food Cart: The Chef Who Once Cooked For The Queen

He calls himself the "Royal Chef." Queen Elizabeth II, Diana the Princess of Wales, and Princes William and Harry all turned to him for meals, as did five U.S. presidents, once upon a time. His name is Darren McGrady. Before the palace kitchen and his new food cart, McGrady worked at the iconic Savoy Hotel in London as its Chef-de-partie Saucier.

Dating back to 1889, the Savoy has long been a leader in hospitality, and this extends to foodservice, as well. When it oepned in the late 19th century, the Savoy implemented cutting edge technology, ventilating its kitchen and going against the grain by allowing natural light into the preparation areas. Renowned maître-chef Auguste Escoffier also introduced a station system there, a concept that has influenced the restaurant industry ever since. It was McGrady's ability to thrive in that historic environment that made him qualified to cook in the royal kitchen.

McGrady spent 15 years with the royal family

When Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer, circa 1981, McGrady slept outside the Buckingham Palace to watch the royal wedding the next day, then wrote a letter to Queen Elizabeth II, asking to cook for her (per McGrady's YouTube). Surprisingly, that request and his resume scored him a gig as carrot-peeler for Her Majesty's horses — according to a personal piece he later wrote for Newsweek. Eventually, McGrady worked his way up to Senior Chef before being assigned to Princess Diana and her kids after she separated from Prince Charles. Starting in '93, he'd cook for the Princess until her death in '97 (he still won't talk about the last meal he made her). After that, he chose to depart for America.

McGrady's impressive career didn't end there, though. He became a public speaker, culinary consultant, and cookbook author. Popular media programs such as the BBC, Oprah Winfrey Show, and Today Show have all featured him. His work also extends to charity causes, including those once championed by Princess Diana herself. So then, why is such a prestigious chef now working with a mere food cart?

The Royal Chef serves a British classic

As of 2023, McGrady has found a new calling in life: A fish and chips food truck (via the Columbian). It's not the royal kitchen, but he's still making the United Kingdom quite proud. After all, the dish is about as English as food can get. However, the Royal Chef is feeding people across the pond now, all the way from Vancouver to Dallas. This mobile restaurant chain — Winston's British Fish N Chips — is a passion project borne from the desires of McGrady (and co-owner Timothy Johnson) to bring authentic British cuisine to the Americas and help legitimize the food truck industry with advanced cooking skills.

The Royal chef won't actually be present at the food truck, serving fish and chips, all that often. Nonetheless, his culinary knowledge helped make the menu what it is today: battered cod, chicken wings in sweet-and-spicy sauce, mushy peas, smoked chowder, and more. In an interview with Eater, McGrady also revealed he plans to eventually add bread-and-butter pudding — Princess Diana's favorite dessert — to the food truck's menu. From the Savoy to the Palace to the streets of America, the Royal Chef never stops innovating!