Food & Drink

A Former Royal Chef Reveals the Signature Dish the Royal Family Loves

Here's how to make it for yourself.
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When he was just 27 years old, Chef Enrico Derflingher became the first Italian to be employed as a personal chef to the British royal family, working mainly at Kensington Palace from 1987 to 1990.

He then went on to become a personal chef to George Bush senior during his presidency in the 1990s. After managing restaurants in both Japan and Italy, and earning a Michelin star along the way, Chef Enrico has now arrived back in Italy to add some royal expertise to the local cuisine. Earlier this year, he took the helm at the five star CastaDiva Resort and Spa, which overlooks the picturesque Lake Como, as consultant chef.

Chef Enrico spoke to Country Living about returning to his roots, cooking for a president and what the royal family like to eat.

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Chef Enrico Derflingher

WHAT WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE LIKE COOKING FOR THE ROYAL FAMILY?

I had the honor of working for the British royal family from 1987 to 1990 and spent most of that time in Kensington Palace. During this time, I was in charge of the kitchen cooking for large banquets across Her Majesty's various estates.

One of my favorite memories cooking for the family has to be the time I prepared a banquet for Her Majesty's Garden Party at Balmoral Castle, Scotland. It was a very special occasion that I was privileged to be a part of.

WHAT LESSONS DID YOU LEARN IN YOUR ROLE AS A ROYAL CHEF?

In many ways, my experience has inspired the dishes I have added to the menu at CastaDiva, the most notable being the Queen Victoria Risotto, a favorite of the royal household, which guests at the resort can sample at L'Orangerie Restaurant.

The ingredients for the risotto includes Sicilian red shrimps, parmesan, herbs and Italian sparkling wine. The baptism of the dish took place during the first encounter between Ronald Reagan and Michail Gorbachev at the end of the Cold War. I then put my twist on it and served it at important state events at Buckingham Palace and the White House.

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A shrimp risotto

I have also learnt how to work with large, professional teams for the preparations of big banquets and have been able to transfer this knowledge to work with the team at CastaDiva who are accustomed to cooking for the highest level of clientele; so really the transition has been seamless.

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WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN COOKING FOR A STATE BANQUET AND BUSY HOTEL RESTAURANT?

Whether cooking for state banquets or hotel guests at CastaDiva, the occasion is still very special for the person dining and the setting is just as formal. Expectations are always high.

That said, one notable difference is that guests at restaurants and hotels have changing demands, they may turn up late, or there may be a sudden influx of guests dining. This requires you to be flexible and to improvise as the situation is always changing whereas cooking for banquets follows a strict and precise protocol which must always be respected.


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L'Orangerie restaurant at CastaDiva

HOW DIFFERENT IS IT BEING A PERSONAL CHEF TO A HOTEL CHEF?

My return to the world of hotels started with Jumby Bay in Antigua and the Hotel Eden in Rome after that, where I stayed for nine years and achieved a Michelin star. The fundamental difference is, of course, dedicating all your time to cooking for one family in contrast to cooking in a dynamic restaurant, filled with many guests, all with different preferences and expectations that are forever evolving.

It is always a proud moment when I get the opportunity to welcome the private clients I previously cooked for to CastaDiva here in Lake Como.


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CastaDiva Resort overlooking Lake Como

WHAT HAS IT BEEN LIKE RETURNING TO LAKE COMO?

Having spent the last 20 years abroad, I've enjoyed returning to my roots to admire this wonderful corner of Italy once again.

My heritage and returning back to Como itself has inspired the style of the menu here at CastaDiva, as well as the dishes themselves. At L'Orangerie, we have created a tasting menu which consists of entirely local dishes. [There are] several fish dishes, including Temolo, a local lake fish, in bread croute served with a red onion compote, garlic sauce, raisin and mint pesto and coffee flavored corn chips.

This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors

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