Chef Christian Garcia has led a colorful culinary journey as head chef to Prince Albert II of Monaco. While the royal chef has been with the House of Grimaldi for three decades, he is also president of the Club des Chefs des Chefs, an organization that brings together chefs working for heads of state.
In his most recent visit to Macau, we were able to sit down and talk to him about creativity when it comes to cuisine and the dedication it takes to host prestigious receptions for the leaders of the world. The down-to-earth gentleman greets us with a warm smile and exclaims how happy he is to be in Macau and how proud he is to be able to experience the hospitality of the SAR and meet other talented chefs.
Tell us what is the difference between being a chef of a head of state and being a chef of a restaurant.
We have the same guests while restaurants have different guests every day. For us, each day needs to be creative and we need an abundance of inspiration when it comes to dishes. We, of course, look to other cuisines of the world to innovate for example Chinese, Thai, and Mexican.
There was one time the prince invited Nelson Mandela and I immediately phoned the executive chef of the South African president. I asked what’s his favorite dish and what was the best food to prepare. That’s why it’s important for us to have this club, Le Club des Chefs des Chefs.
What is your main function as President of the Le Club des Chefs des Chefs?
Having events around the world, we sincerely try to organize charity dinners and share the experience of chefs of other countries. We aim to meet students from culinary schools and share our experiences. And ultimately be an ambassador of our own countries and show the best of our individual cuisines.
What do you think is the difference in terms of cooking now than 30 years ago?
I don’t think the cuisine has changed a lot in 30 years. We can change the dish in our own innovative way, of course. Lately, chefs have different ways to cook with a specific food, but there is a sense of respect from chefs before, and you just try to put your own touch to it.
How did you decide to become a chef?
I decided to go to culinary school with influence from my parents and I worked in the best palaces in Monaco. I was 22 years old then and I worked really hard. It’s important to take your chance and grab the opportunity when it arises. When you are at that right moment, you have to take the chance.
What is your favorite dish to cook for the prince?
I can’t say it because then he’ll get served it every time and everywhere he goes [laughs]. I’d say though that it would be Mediterranean cuisine. The prince has his own garden with organic vegetables, and we have good fish and fresh produce. I am very lucky. It’s easy to cook when you have good food.
Do you cook at home? What do you usually prepare?
At home, the chef is my wife. However, I love fish. I teach my kids to eat the best food since they were a baby. When they eat the vegetable they put balsamic vinegar. I tell them you don’t necessarily have to eat the best food but it has to be good food. I, of, course out my own personal touch to every dish.
Does Monaco have a national dish?
The Barbagiuan is a traditional dish and every family has a special recipe of their own. It is stuffed with Swiss chard and ricotta, amongst other ingredients. With the Monegasque traditional cuisine, the Mediterranean influence is dominant and very popular. I am very excited to discover the Macanese cuisine and talk to chefs in these regions.
Chef Christian Garcia is president of the Club des Chefs des Chefs and for further updates and information, check their website