Food fit for a king

Food for kings

...and queens

As the nation s celebrated Queen Elizabeth’s 70 years on the British throne, bakers across the country put all their effort into creating a pudding recipe to mark the occasion.

The Fortnum and Mason Platinum Pudding competition’s aim was to come up with a recipe that stands the test of time – much like many other dishes created for royal events.

Jemma Melvin’s lemon Swiss roll and amaretti trifle beat 5,000 desserts to become the official pudding of the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations. She will now go down in history as creating food fit for a royal.

Famous inventions

Throughout history chefs, bakers and talented cooks have brought their finest and most elegant dishes to the tables of kings and queens, often naming favoured dishes after whom they were inspired.

In the UK the Queen Mother had a taste for a flourless chocolate cake which now takes her name, while Coronation Chicken – a cold dish of chicken with a curried sauce – was invented for Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation banquet in 1953. 

Food fit for a king or queen – coronation chicken

Royal banquet

Known as Poulet Reine Elizabeth the latter recipe was invented by Le Cordon Bleu London 20 years after it first opened its doors in the capital in 1933. It was commissioned by Sir David Eccles, the Minister of Works at the time, who asked Cordon Bleu’s management team to undertake a banquet for three hundred and fifty people in the Great Hall of Westminster School.

Queen Victoria was renowned for having a very sweet tooth and history associates her with her very own Victoria Sponge.

Food fit for a king

According to a memoir of the Queen written in the late 19th century by an unknown writer, she required a constant supply of cakes including chocolate sponges and princess cakes.

Prince Albert favoured more savoury delights than his wife and one dish named after him was Fillet of Beef Prince Albert. Consisting of a fillet of beef packed with duck liver pate, rindless bacon, carrots, celery and onions it is then slow cooked with truffle oil, beef stock, cognac and madeira. It was also served with a mashed version of potatoes, a variety of which had also been named after him

Fillet of beef was a favourite of Prince Albert

King’s syllabub

Princess Alice Consommé is another invention of the household, named after one of Queen Victoria’s grandchildren made with artichoke hearts and lettuce.

King Charles II is another royal to add to the culinary inspiration of the British Isles and a syllabub bearing his name consists of whipped cream and sugar into which is stirred wine, lemon zest and lemon juice. 

It is not just British monarchy that inspires chefs to create new dishes. Many countries across the world have foods that are named after royal subjects.

Green icing over marzipan is a traditional cover for Swedish Princess Cake
Swedish Princess Cake

It is said that the Swedish princesses Martha, Margaretha, and Astridin loved baking a type of cake filled with vanilla cream and raspberry jam so much in school that their teacher called it Princess Cake after them – and it is now a traditional children’s birthday cake.

Pancakes and souffles

Crepes Suzette was created for King Edward in 1896 in Monte Carlo. Although it was made for him it failed to earn a royal name as he insisted that it be named after his young female companion called Suzette.  The dish is made from thin pancakes with orange then coated in a buttery sauce with Grand Marnier liquer.

More latterly, Soufflé Diana was created by D&D London in 2008 when it took over Launceston Place in Kensington, a regular haunt of the late Princess Diana in the early 90s. This was a cheese souffle surrounding mustard ice cream.

Although not named after a king, Crepes Suzette has a royal connection.

Royal inspiration

Even if a chef wasn’t lucky enough to cook for the crown, they often still drew inspiration from the royals for their culinary creations, like Crab Louie, named after France’s King Louis XIV.

Pizza Margherita has a similar history. According to popular tradition Queen Margherita of Savoy, wife of King Umberto I, visited Naples in 1889. Chef Raffaele Esposito of Pizzeria Brandi and his wife created  a pizza that took on the colours of the Italian flag – tomato for the red, mozzarella for the white and basil for the green.  They named it after the Queen – Pizza Margherita – and that is still one of the most popular flavours on any pizza menu across the globe.

Not just royalty

But it isn’t necessary to be royal to have your name on a dish.

Beef Wellington – a pastry wrapped fillet of steak – is reputed to be named after the Iron Duke, Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, who led British forces to victory Napoleonic wars.

The sandwich is another example of food being named after its inventor. John Montagu found a way to make his lunch portable by placing meat between two slices of bread. He was the fourth Earl of Sandwich, a town in Kent, England.

A beef sandwich was a trend started by the Earl of Sandwich, seeking a way to make his lunch mobile.

It is thought Omelette Arnold Bennett came about when the author and writer was staying at the Savoy Hotel in London when the chef at the time made him an omelette topped with smoked ham and finished with bechamel and hollandaise sauces, double cream and Parmesan. This dish offers double namesakes as one sauce carries the name of Louis de Béchameil, marquis de Nointel (1630–1703).

Hamburger soup

Perhaps not so much a culinary delight but more a PR stunt was Ronald Reagan’s hamburger soup. When in 1986 the US President said he liked French soups, American chefs responded with a ‘we can do soup better’ and created a version made from ground beef, tomatoes, green peppers and hominy.

The fact that neither the name or recipe seems to have stuck around suggests it wasn’t as successful as the creators might have hoped.

Feeling hungry?

If all this talk of food has made you hungry why not have a look at the ready made meals we have available – no inspiration required, just heat and eat! Click below to see our full menu selection.