By Royal appointment
What is it like to be a royal chef? We asked Christian Garcia, Chef de Cuisine of HSH Prince Albert II at the Palais Princier de Monaco, and President of the prestigious Le Club des Chefs des Chefs – the world’s most exclusive gastronomic society – to rev
How did your career begin?
My parents were running a brasserie in Monaco and I used to help them in the kitchen. It was where I learnt to cook, especially from my mum. I then studied at Lycée Hôtelier Monte Carlo and went on to work in various hotels – the
Hôtel Hermitage, Monte Carlo Beach Hotel and Hôtel de Paris where I stayed for five years covering all roles from Commis to Executive Chef. In 1987 I was invited to join the Palace kitchen for seven months. I accepted, thinking that it was a good opportunity, and 32 years later I am still here.
What do you love about your work?
Each day I know will bring a new experience. When you are happy, then it’s not work. Sometimes I wish I could share my experiences with my friends – the opportunity to meet presidents and kings when, after all, I am just a cook.
Do you personally get to meet these dignitaries?
Yes, at the end of each dinner or banquet I feel very proud when the Prince asks me to come and salute the guests – it’s the cherry on the cake. When you work hard to ensure every detail is perfect then it’s very gratifying to be complimented on your work. When the Prince and Princess are happy, then I am content.
Do you have to follow certain protocol?
Yes of course. We work very closely with the protocol office here at the Palace, especially when we have official dinners and receptions. We receive details of any of the dignitaries’ allergies or preferences.
What have been the most unforgettable moments?
When President Mandela visited the Principality and the Prince invited me to meet him. But I have also been lucky enough to meet President Obama, Angela Merkel and, in particular, Her Majesty The Queen – these were unforgettable moments for me.
Is it hard to measure up to these standards?
It is, but I am fortunate to work with the finest ingredients every day. The vegetables are from our own organic farm, I get the best fish and meat, so creating good food becomes very easy. All that is required is appropriate cooking time, seasoning, etc. I believe in simplicity, although as cooks, we try to complicate things most of the time.
What are HSH Prince Albert II’S favourite foods?
He loves Mediterranean cuisine with fresh and seasonal produce, preferably from his vegetable garden. The Prince and Princess are fine gourmets so it is easy for me to cook for them. In fact the Prince comes into the kitchen every day and takes an active interest in what is being made. It’s a privilege to have that kind of contact.
And finally, who does the cooking when you get home?
The real chef of the house is my wife but I enjoy cooking with my children – teaching them to eat healthily. And I enjoy cooking whenever we have friends to visit.
“ Sometimes I wish I could share my experiences with my friends – the opportunity to meet presidents and kings. ” Christian Garcia
HSH Prince Albert II (centre) with Chef Christian Garcia (left) and the team at the Palais Princier de Monaco
Greeting Giorgio Napolitano, former President of Italy