Former Royal Chef Darren McGrady's Tribute To Queen Elizabeth

One-time royal chef Darren McGrady got straight to the point in an Instagram tribute to Queen Elizabeth II. Following her death on September 8 at age 96, McGrady posted a recent photo of the queen captioned, "RIP Your Majesty. Thank you for letting me cook for you for 11 years!" Within hours, the post garnered more than 3,000 likes and dozens of comments.

A few hours before posting the simple tribute, McGrady spoke with CNN's Erin Burnett, who asked him what he remembered most about his time with Queen Elizabeth and the royal family. "You know, it's an incredibly sad day," McGrady told Burnett. "I'm feeling those sort of pains in my stomach, as if I lost a loved one, and I think the whole nation feels the same, and everyone around the world.

McGrady, who worked for the queen from 1982 to 1993, remembered Her Royal Highness as an amazing lady with a keen sense of humor. "I got to see the queen for all those years in pomp and pageantry, but also behind the scenes too, the happy smiley faces," he told CNN. "I'm just thinking back today to when I first met her, walking the corgis along the river at Balmoral Castle and the corgis chasing me, me running away, the queen just laughing out loud."

"I turned and ran," he recalled in a Newsweek article. "I realized then that I wasn't meeting the queen that day.

Memorable Encounters

McGrady told Newsweek he didn't actually speak to the queen until several years later following an event at Wood Farm at Sandringham. "I'd been working all weekend, and the queen had been entertaining," he recalled. "She came into the kitchen and said, 'Thank you for a lovely weekend.' She had this way of making you feel like you were the only person in the world at that moment."

McGrady was chef de partie saucier at London's Savoy Hotel in 1981 when he set his sights on a career in the royal household. He and his mother camped out in front of Buckingham Palace the night before Prince Charles wed Princess Diana. Inspired, he wrote a letter to Queen Elizabeth II, secured an interview, and got the job, although it wasn't as glamorous as he anticipated, according to Newsweek.

"I moved from being chef de partie saucier right down to being chef number 20 of 20 for the queen," McGrady recalled. "My first job was actually peeling carrots for a horse." McGrady worked his way through the ranks, eventually becoming head chef. Along the way he collected memories of Queen Elizabeth II, including her love of farm-fresh ingredients. "She was never happier than when she was actually eating something from her own garden," McGrady told CNN recalling the queen and her daughter harvesting vegetables from the gardens at Balmoral Castle. "That's when she was happy."