The Chef Who Served the Queen of England

Educated at the School of Catering and Hospitality at the Colchester Institute in Essex, chef James Gibney has served as the corporate executive chef for the British Beer Company (BBC) for the past seven years. He started his culinary training working in the kitchens at Windsor Castle, cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner for Queen Elizabeth and the rest of the royal family. Gibney also helped prepare banquets for Queen Elizabeth’s Golden Jubilee and fed mourners after the passing of the Queen Mother. With the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle taking place this month, we asked him to reflect on his experience serving the royal family.

What led you to Windsor Castle?

Third-year students in my program had the opportunity to complete internships at either Buckingham Palace or Windsor Castle. There were about four of us selected and after completing the necessary rigorous security checks we stayed for the whole month of April, 2002.

James Gibney

What was it like working for the royal family?

You know, they really are no different from anybody else. They are creatures of consistency, comfort and tradition. On a normal week they basically ate the same thing for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Breakfast for the queen was either miniature jam tarts or toast with jam preserves. The duke usually had cornflakes.  

You must have been part of a large staff.

There were well over 200 people on any given day. That included the head chef, sous chefs, porters, footmen and butlers. There is a position for everyone—even for the silver room. Someone needs to polish and display all the silver in the cabinets. Also, every chef had a kitchen porter to clean knives and cutting boards and pans. It was very useful.  I was a saucier for a week and I had a ‘runner’ take my copper orders. I told him what size copper pots and pans I would need and he would go off on his golf cart and zip through the corridor, which was the width of about one lane of traffic, and speed through the castle until he reached the copper room where he retrieved whatever was on my list.

What kind of British offerings can guests enjoy
at the BBC?

The BBC’s classic everyday British menu includes Steak and Ale pies and British pasties. 

—Tayla Monturio

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