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

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