SA born chef dishes on making melktert for Princes Harry and William

2017-07-11 10:12
Carolyn Robb

Cape Town - As part of their royal season, ITV Choice (DStv 123) is dishing up a delicious new show.

Royal Recipes airs weekdays at 19:10 on the channel and combines recipes with historical details. Contributors to the series re-create some of the dishes served to monarchs from George IV to the present day.

One of those contributors is South African-born Carolyn Robb. Carolyn was the personal chef to Charles, Diana, William and Harry for eleven years.  

She appears in three episodes of the series and spoke to us about her time with the royal family and her involvement in the show.

You are South African and now living and working and cooking for royalty in the UK. Tell us how that came about?

I was incredibly fortunate that through the generosity of my parents, I was able to attend a brilliant cookery school in Surrey, just outside London. Whilst there I was offered a job in the royal household - with TRH The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester at Kensington Palace. It was the most amazing first job and they are a wonderful family. Two years later I began cooking for TRH The Prince and Princess of Wales and the young Princes William and Harry. My dream job!

You were the personal chef to Charles and Diana. How did you land the job?

Whilst I was working for TRH The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, I was invited to go for an interview with TRH The Prince and Princess of Wales (who also lived in an apartment at Kensington Palace). At 23 I joined their household, and the following eleven years were very hard work but very exciting and a huge privilege.

What were some of the highlights for you during your time cooking for the royal couple and of course William and Harry?

I loved the foreign travel (official overseas state visits). We travelled to some very far flung corners of the world, to name but a few: Bhutan, Nepal, Guyana, Brazil, Trinidad, Macedonia, Jordan, Botswana, Swaziland and South Africa! One of the most memorable trips was to Hong Kong for the handover - this was also the last trip that we did on the royal yacht HMY Britannia before it was decommissioned. There were some wonderful fund- raising events that I did in Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace, which I will always remember.  Being with the family during the years that Prince William and Prince Harry were growing up was very special.
What were some of the family's favourite recipes?

They loved Italian food - home-made pasta, risotto and gnocchi. They also all enjoyed the fresh produce that was grown in the gardens at Highgrove.

Do you ever cook any South African inspired dishes?

The occasional melktert, but that was about it.

You brought out a fabulous cook book The Royal Touch a few years ago - tell us a bit about that

My book is a compilation of 100 of my favourite recipes, many of them have been served to the royal family but there are also family favourites from when I was growing up. The food is simple to prepare and delicious to eat

Can you tell us about the episodes in which you feature in the TV series Royal Recipes?

The three episodes include 'weddings' birthdays' and 'royal consorts'. In the wedding episode I made 'chocolate biscuit cake' which I made for the princes as young boys and which William then chose to have as the grooms cake at his wedding. In the birthdays episode I cooked a chicken dish and ice cream and the 'royal consorts' I prepared an aubergine (brinjal) dish that I used to make from Princess Diana.

Carolyn Robb

(Carolyn Robb. Photo: Supplied)

What work are you involved with now?

I have created a brand, which I am working hard to expand. I have created lines of tableware and cookware and have licensing agreements with some overseas companies. I work with several travel companies and still do some small bespoke events for private and corporate clients. I am also starting work on a second cookbook.

Is there anyone else famous you would like to cook for?

I don't think that anyone could top the members of the royal family that I have cooked for! I love cooking for my two young daughters and can't think of anyone more special than them that I'd like to cook for now.

Do you still have family in South Africa and do you ever get a chance to come "home" to visit them?

Yes, one of my brothers still lives in Pietermaritzburg. I last visited him six years ago and I look forward to visiting him again when my daughters are both old enough to enjoy and remember making the journey to South Africa.

Catch Royal Recipes every Monday to Friday at 19:10 on ITV Choice (DStv 123).

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