The so-called G20 of gastronomy, formed by the chefs of the heads of state, tastes national recipes as it passes through Madrid
Elizabeth II loves foie gras; former US President George Bush was never in the mood for broccoli; the twins of the princes of Monaco like to try new flavors, and in Moncloa they are good to eat. These are some of the culinary secrets that the chefs of the heads of State and Government of the world have told, who have met for the first time in Spain at the hands of the Club des Chefs des Chefs.
Almost twenty of the chefs that make up the association have known the national flavors and the most representative dishes in Madrid. The trusted chefs of the leaders of European, African, Asian and American countries have promised to add Spanish recipes to their menus when they return to the presidential kitchen.
The work of these other rulers of the presidential palaces is not easy. Preparing dishes for the same ‘client’ (Pedro Sánchez, his wife Begoña and their daughters Carlota and Ainhoa, in addition to the guests who may be at the table) every day and not getting bored is a job that involves «creativity, knowledge and risk”, says the Moncloa chef, José Roca. His vision is shared by the rest of the members of the exclusive group, known in the culinary world as the G20 of gastronomy, created in 1977.
In Moncloa they eat a lot. There are “joy days” with sweets or hamburgers a few times a month. Healthy dishes are the main ones and are chosen at the beginning of the week. Roca, with 44 years of experience, sends a list of proposals and receives the roadmap for the next few days with a special request that breaks the diet. “The Spanish leaders have been very homely. They have the office next to home because the family occupies a very important place. As chefs we try to make the table a meeting point to forget about problems”, reveals Roca.
The chef of Albert II of Monaco, Christian García, apart from being the president of the club for 15 years, is also the father of twins, as well as the current Monegasque princes. The chef, French by birth and with Andalusian origins, has spent 35 years in the kitchen of the palace. He landed in 1987 with a seven-month work contract and never left. Although he is the head of the largest kitchen in the country, in his home his wife governs, who is the one who prepares the dishes at home.
The ideas of the chefs arise from the constant expeditions they carry out with the group. Having the same diner, it is an obligation to take risks with international flavors, it is a bet that sometimes works out and sometimes not. But they always try to innovate. The founder of the association, Gilles Bragard, stressed that at the beginning it was a club of friends who fed the leaders of the planet, then a task arose to fulfill: to be the gastronomy ambassadors of each country. Arriving from France, Finland, Germany, Italy, Monaco, Denmark, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Estonia, South Africa, Morocco, Israel, India, Peru, Ecuador and Canada, all of them defend their local products, but they do not close to discover territories through food. “The best recipes are those of my mother,” they agree in pointing out.
The chefs share their days with the royal and presidential families, so confidentiality is essential. Some anecdotes show that it is better “to know everything and not remember anything,” Bragard said. One of the stories he tells is that several years ago it became known that former US President George Bush did not like broccoli and the day after he found out, farmers demonstrated outside the White House. In other words, a simple comment from a head of state about a dish can end up unleashing a labor dispute. “The table is also political,” he says.
The founder of the club clarifies that with each change of government the kitchen is also modified. Such is the case of the chef of the Israeli Administration, Joseph Korson, who is on ‘vacation’ awaiting the election of a new president in the country. For this, he combines his passion for gastronomy with technology with his own food preparation company.
Gastronomy has become a pillar of governments, assured Gilles Bragard, citing the words that the French diplomat of the seventeenth century, Charles Maurice de Talleyrand, said to Napoleon Bonaparte: “Give me good dishes and I will make good treaties”.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.