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Aussie chef Paul Smart reveals what he cooked for Queen Elizabeth II on her 80th birthday gala

An Australian chef has recalled the moment he cooked for the late Queen Elizabeth II for her 80th birthday gala in 2006.

Paul Smart, from Adelaide, told FEMAIL he was completely ‘star struck’ by the fantastic opportunity during his two-year stint in London

The Queen wanted something very simple done well and of high quality,’ he said, adding: ‘We cooked for about 300 people for a sit-down dinner; it was quite intense.’ 

The 42-year-old has been in the industry for 25 years and now calls Queensland home as he prepares for a four-day culinary event in November. 

Executive chef Paul Smart (pictured) recalled when he cooked for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 2006 for her birthday gala 

Paul was part of a huge team of around 100 chefs from around the world and he was in charge of fish and meat. 'The Queen loved her seafood and lamb, so we cooked fish for entrée and lamb for main course,' he said

Paul was part of a huge team of around 100 chefs from around the world and he was in charge of fish and meat. ‘The Queen loved her seafood and lamb, so we cooked fish for entrée and lamb for main course,’ he said

Beforehand Paul travelled from Adelaide to England on a work visa and managed to secure a job at The Ritz London where he started as a demi-chef then was promoted to a Chef de partie in the meat section of the kitchen. 

During that time he cooked for huge names including Jamie Oliver and Bill Clinton, but his ‘major highlight’ was cooking for the Queen.

‘Everyone was there – Prince Edward, Prince Phillip, even the future king at the time!’ he said.

Paul was part of a huge team of around 100 chefs from around the world and he was in charge of fish and meat.

‘The Queen loved her seafood and lamb, so we cooked fish for entrée and lamb for main course,’ he said.

Not only did he have the pressure of cooking for Her Majesty sitting on his shoulders, he also needed to know French to cook in the kitchen. 

What was served at Queen Elizabeth II’s 80th birthday? 

Entrée – langoustine and delicious dover sole – prawns and a type of fish 

Mains – lamb

For entrée Her Majesty was served a light langoustine dish, which Paul described as a type of ‘fancy, sweet prawn’ with a hard shell. 

‘Being in London, we had the best produce you could get. We had orders of seafood flown in from France morning and afternoon – it was crazy,’ he said.

A delicious dover sole, a type of flounder fish, was also served for entrée then lamb for mains.

Paul couldn’t recall what was served for dessert but says The Ritz had a ‘fantastic’ team of pastry chefs. 

While he only caught a glimpse of Her Majesty, he did see King Charles walk into the kitchen and shake hands with the head chef. 

Paul said his time spent in London was one of the highlights of his life and career.  

Paul, 42, has been in the industry for 25 years and now calls Queensland home as he prepares for a four-day culinary event in November

Paul, 42, has been in the industry for 25 years and now calls Queensland home as he prepares for a four-day culinary event in November

From November 7-10 the JW Marriot Gold Coast Resort & Spa will host a 'Culinary Stars Showcase' featuring a degustation dining, traditional high tea and cooking class. Paul invited six local chefs from around South East Queensland to take part in the event

From November 7-10 the JW Marriot Gold Coast Resort & Spa will host a ‘Culinary Stars Showcase’ featuring a degustation dining, traditional high tea and cooking class. Paul invited six local chefs from around South East Queensland to take part in the event

How to make pumpkin gnocchi at home:

GNOCCHI Ingredients

  • 250g potatoes 
  • 1 egg yolk 
  • 30g parmesan cheese 
  • 20g salt 
  • 100g flour 
  • Chopped herbs 
  • Rock salt for cooking

PUMPKIN GARNISH Ingredients 

  • 250g butternut pumpkin 
  • 15g sea salt 
  • 80ml olive oil

Method for the gnocchi: 

1. Bake potatoes in tray covered with rock salt at 180 degrees for 55 minutes 

2. Cut potatoes in half and push through drum sieve onto a cool bench, leave to chill.

3. Place egg yolk, herbs, parmesan, salt and flour over the top, knead together and roll out into gnocchi shape. 

4. Place onto a floured or baking paper lined tray. Freeze or cook direct into boiling water. 

5. Once the gnocchi floats, refresh into ice water, drain well and keep aside. 

6. Pan sear with butter and sage until golden brown 

Method for the pumpkin garnish:  

 1. Peel pumpkin and cut into 2cm thick pieces. 

2. Roll in olive oil and roast until soft, keep half for whole pieces. 

3. Place the other half of the roasted pumpkin in a food processor. 

4. Purée until smooth and pass through chinos

Finish the dish with fine grated parmesan cheese 

When asked if he prefers cooking for the Queen or in Queensland, Paul answered with a laugh. 

‘You only get to cook for the Queen once, and now I’ll never be able to again, so I’m glad I’ve had that chance. But for now I’m very happy in Queensland showcasing what’s on offer here,’ he said.

Paul also revealed how to make his signature dishes at home – including Moreton Bay bug dumplings, pumpkin gnocchi and bao buns. 

‘Moreton Bay bugs are an ingredient you can get nearly any fish shop in the northern east coast,’ he said. 

How to make Moreton Bay bug dumplings at home:

Sauce ingredients 

  • 100g bug, crab and prawn shells 
  • 50g tomato paste 
  • 50g carrot, onion and celery 
  • 250ml chicken stock 
  • 1/4 bunch tarragon 
  • 1 shot brandy

Filling ingredients 

  • 150mg bug meat 
  • 150g prawn meat 
  • 1 egg white 
  • 300ml cream
  • 12 kaffir lime leaves 
  • 7g sea salt 
  • 12 wonton wrapper 

Bhilli Bay bug ingredients 

  • 12 premium bay bugs 
  • 100ml coconut milk 
  • 100ml lime juice 
  • 100ml chilli paste 
  • 100ml fish sauce

Method for the sauce 

1. Make the bisque sauce by adding bug & crab shells to a hot large pan. 

2. Deglaze with brandy & flambee, add white wine & reduce. 

3. Add stock & simmer for 90 minutes until sauce is rounded & full flavor. 

4. Strain through Chinois & reduce until thick. 

Method for the filling 

1. Add bug meat & prawns to a food processor. Puree with egg white. 

2. Fold cream into the bug filling and season to taste. 

3. Add chopped kaffir lime leaves. 

4. Wrap dumplings using wonton wrapper sheets

Method for the bugs 

1. Sautee bug meat with chili paste, coconut milk and fish sauce and lime juice. 

FINAL TOUCH: Steam bug dumplings, place in bowl, heat sauce and lightly foam, place chilli bugs

From November 7-10 the JW Marriot Gold Coast Resort & Spa will host a ‘Culinary Stars Showcase’ featuring a degustation dining, traditional high tea and cooking class. 

Paul invited six local chefs from around South East Queensland to take part in the event. 

‘Our aim is to take guests on a journey through where each chef has been and what they’ve seen, looking at our rich Queensland produce to develop the menu,’ he said. 

‘I have either worked or crossed paths in the industry over the past 20 years with this talented group of chefs and it’s exciting to come together with a common purpose – wanting diners to walk away eager to explore the variety and beauty food available here on the coast.’ 

If you’re interested in booking a spot, click here.

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