Royal wedding: A feast fit for a future King

14 MARCH 2011

The royal wedding is the conversation topic of choice – but what food fans are all asking is what will Prince William and Kate Middleton serve on the big day?

Rumours abound – will it be traditional game or even, as some suggest, a buffet? – but the general presumption is that it will be a celebration of British and Irish produce.



We got the opinion of Great British Menu winner Niall McKenna, executive chef at Belfast’s fantastic James St South restaurant, who took his turn cooking for royalty as part of the show.

His dessert, rhubarb and strawberry jelly with yellow-man (honeycomb) and lavender ice cream wowed Prince Charles, the Duchess or Cornwall, and the other diners at the celebratory dinner.

What was it like cooking for Prince Charles on The Great British Menu and what did you cook?

"It was an honor to cook for Prince Charles, Camilla and the hundred producers as it very rare you get the opportunity to meet such a large group who have such a passion for food production and its provenance.

"I cooked the dessert, a rhubarb and strawberry jelly with yellowman and lavender ice cream."

What special considerations come into play when cooking for royalty?

"When cooking for royalty the main consideration was timing, as their schedules are so busy everything must run like clockwork, so preparation was the key.

"Another element is to present them with something different which they may not tasted before, so that it will be memorable."

How important is the sourcing of ingredients?

For any good chef sourcing quality, local ingredients is the key to a good menu. I am really lucky here in Northern Ireland as I get to work with small producers willing to grow vegetables and fruit specifically for my restaurant James Street South.

"This also enables me to be flexible with the menu as if something is in season I can adapt our menus to include it."


What would you cook for William and Kate's wedding day?

"I would devise a menu which would be a modern take on some of our Great British dishes like as asparagus with quail's egg dressing; for the fish course I might go for poached halibut with watercress and for the main course some lamb with new potatoes and butter braised leeks.

"For the dessert I would serve my Great British Menu dessert! If I could I would include a cheese course showcasing some of the best regional cheeses.

"Although the dishes sound simple the taste and flavours would be sensational and the presentation would be clean and simple and perfectly suited to a wedding breakfast."

How difficult is it to upscale the level of cooking you're used to to cater for that many people?

"Cooking for such large numbers can be difficult, but the key is getting the menu right and having a great team on the floor.

"Picking ingredients on the menu which you know you can get right for every plate that leaves the kitchen is also vital.

"As much as the food itself is important it is equally critical that the food be served on time and with a good flow, meaning the meal runs well and service is smooth. There is nothing worse than attending a function where the food is not delivered to the table all at once!"

What are your predictions for the wedding meal?

"Although everyone is saying the wedding will be an austere affair I think it will be a celebration of all things great about British food and I would not be surprised if a few of the ingredients come from the Highgrove estate.

"I do hope, though, they are representative of all the great ingredients from throughout the British Isles.

"I think that the menu will feature seasonal ingredients for April like asparagus, watercress, new potatoes, new season lamb and perhaps some halibut."


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