British Embassy chef recalls King Charles’ love for mashed potato

Chef Dario Pizzetti (left) meeting Charles, in his role as Prince of Wales, at Villa Wolkonsky

 ROME – On the occasion of the coronation of King Charles, Dario Pizzetti, who has been the head chef at the British Embassy in Rome for almost 20 years, recalls that the King cannot be without mashed potatoes and refuses to eat garlic whilst in residence in Rome. 

 Pizzetti explained in an interview with La Repubblica that he has met Charles and his consort Camilla at Villa Wolkonsky, the residence of the British Ambassador to Italy, on several occasions and recalls their meetings with pride. 

 “We have hosted him several times in residence, as Prince of Wales. In my years he came four times, twice alone and twice with his wife Camilla,” Pizzetti said. 

 When asked about how he decides what to cook for Charles when he is in residence, Pizzetti revealed that it takes a lot of work beforehand and behind the scenes. 

 “In the run-up to a visit of the Royal Household, we start preparations several months beforehand. When Charles visited us as the Prince of Wales, I had direct contact with Clarence House and now as King, I will have to be in contact with Buckingham Palace in order to send menu proposals.”

 Pizzetti also disclosed that there is a list of foods that Charles does not like and must be avoided. 

 “The King does not eat garlic and onion, not even goat’s cheese. He prefers fish to meat and simple cooking methods such as grilling and steaming.”

 “On his last visit,” Pizzetti continued, “I prepared fresh pasta for lunch: ravioli with pecorino mousse and broad beans. For the main course, I had planned English spinach and boiled potatoes, but at the last minute we learned that he would prefer mashed potatoes. Everything must be possible!”

 In this context, Pizzetti noted that last minute changes are rather common and says that he is proud to be able to cater to the wishes of Charles and Camilla.

 “We send the proposals and then the butler replies with their actual choices – whether they are on the menu or not!”

 He revealed that there is always a “direct line” between the kitchen and the royals to ensure that meal times fit around their schedules. 

 “During their last visit together, the royals ate separately, a quarter of an hour apart, nothing strange, just staggered schedules which we had to adhere to.”

 “Camilla wants half an avocado at every meal, while in the morning she eats papaya,” Pizzetti revealed. “But we don’t know anything about their breakfast. The valet brings to the room after preparing it himself. Although we are colleagues, there is secrecy about what happens in the room.”

 Reflecting on his own personal interactions with Charles, Pizzetti disclosed that Charles regularly calls Villa Wolkonsky to check up on the staff and after having eaten at the residence, Charles always makes appreciations and leaves gifts. 

 “The last time it was a box of chocolates from his production, the previous time he gave us a wallet with the symbol of the Prince of Wales.”

 “To the royals, you have to kneel slightly and give your hand if they offer theirs,” Pizzetti revealed. “Charles always offers his. The last time he was here, when greeting me he also patted me on the shoulder.”

 “He is a person of great courtesy and we hope he will come back soon.”