The United States President and First Lady, Barack and Michelle Obama, were recently entertained at a rare royal state dinner by England’s Queen Elizabeth II. At such historic events, no detail is overlooked.
With 162 plus vip guests looking forward to being seated in the grand banquet hall, each place setting is always measured out with a ruler. (A missed inch here or there can result in a shortage of space at the end of the 168 foot table, meaning an entire lengthy table reset. Ouch!)
Treasured golden candelabras and engraved antique glasses are polished and shined under the direction of the Assistant Yeoman of the Royal Glass and China Pantry. Finally, at exactly 5PM the Queen herself traditionally enters the historic Hall to review the preparation (which is only proper as she is the host of the evening’s festivities).
Accompanied by the Master of the Queen’s Household and his supportive staff, Her Majesty always seems to find a missed detail – a candle slightly askew, a microphone waiting to squeal when turned on. All are corrected by the palace’s highly trained staff, each with floor-saving dusters worn over their shoes.
Down in the Great Kitchen, the Royal Chef directs a staff of 23 chefs and nine kitchen porters. Mobile hot food trolleys (carts) are used to transport all the food they have prepared for guests from the lower kitchen to the Great Hall above. Once transported to the upper floor, the prepared courses are laid out and garnished by the supportive chefs, who are waiting in the prep rooms that adjoin the Banquet Hall.
Each group of nine guests along the formal banquet table is served by an under butler, a wine butler, a footman and a page – not a bad staffing level!
Service begins and pauses, quite literally, with staff signals from a discreetly placed series of red and green lights. Additionally, the floor staff is trained to respond to an array of subtle hand signals that relay each guest’s instant needs.
And the menu served? One truly worthy of such a memorable event!
Paupiette de Sole et Cresson Sauce Nantua (Roulade of Sole and Watercress Accented with a Nantua Seafood Sauce)
Agneau de la Nouvelle Saison de Windsor au Basilic (New Season Lamb Herbed with Windsor Basil)
Courgettes et Radis Sautées (Sauteed Zucchinis and Radishes)
Panaché d'Haricots Verts (Panache Mix of Green Beans)
Pommes Boulangère (Baked Apples)
Salade (Fresh Greens Salad)
Charlotte à la Vanille et Cerises Griottes (Vanilla Charlotte Garnished with Sour Cherries)
Fruits de Dessert (Dessert Fruits)
Ridgeview Cuvée Merret Fitzrovia Rosé 2004
Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos 2004 (Domaine William Fèvre)
Echézeaux Grand Cru 1990 (Domaine de la Romanée-Conti)
Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin, Vintage Rich 2002
Royal Vintage Port 1963!
Your Culinary World copyright Ana Kinkaid/Peter Schlagel 2011