Oman’s strong relationship with the United Kingdom continues to thrive that any Royal celebration in the UK is closely watched by thousands of people in Oman.
The Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and now Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle has been watched by millions of people from around the world and the residents of Oman were no different.
But what was the wedding like? How were the recipes selected?
Greek Chef Nikolas Koulousias was one of the chefs selected to help prepare for the royal wedding representing Greece. Here in Oman to headline the pop-up event ‘Royal Affairs’ at Anantara al Jabal Al Akhdhar on November 6 to 8, he took some time off from his busy schedule to give an exclusive inside information about the inner workings of a Royal Wedding from the kitchen perspective.
According to Chef Niko, there were 24 chefs who made the final list of the wedding. Every chef represented a country and because he used to do consultancy work with a few chefs who now work in Buckingham Palace, he was invited not only for his culinary expertise but in a way, to serve as a reunion among old colleagues.
“May 19 was the wedding. I was already there middle of March, almost one and a half months of preparation,” he shared.
“Having so many different chefs working together, the wedding was a joint effort. The work was divided among the 24 chefs with 12 working in Buckingham Palace and 12 in the house in Windsor,” he shared.
He said that it was necessary to divide the work as the tradition of a Royal Wedding was that the Queen was opening the brunch but with some guests in Buckingham and Meghan in Windsor, it would have been hard to bring the brunch in one place.
“For the wedding, the main menu was nine courses. The challenge was that all the 650 guests had to eat all at the same time. The plates had to be in front of all of the guests at the same time. The protocol is that once the Queen is finished, then everyone must stop eating, too, “ he said.
Over 300 servers with two plates each served the guests.
During the prep, they had to work with local suppliers and everytime an ingredient is not available, they had to change the menu. The food was vetted by the Royal Office with information on what to do communicated to every chef. There were also certain parameters they had to meet like the items on the menu should be seasonal and that they had to represent Britain. The recipes were up to the chef and they had to name them according to which house they belong like Windsor.
For the Royal Affairs popup event, Chef Niko is recreating what transpired during the wedding but localising the ingredients.
“The Royal Wedding menu serves as foundation of the items served but we are matching the ingredients with the local produce. This is providing residents of Oman an opportunity to experience a fine dining experience the way we did the Royal Wedding but with a local twist,” he said.
Chef Niko is working in tandem with Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdhar’s Executive Chef, Gaspare Greco, to finalise and ensure the high quality of the food item and keeping the luxury experience intact.
Anantara General Manager Dagmar Symes shared that when she first heard of Chef Niko’s inclusion as one of the 24 chefs to help prepare the food menu for the Royal Wedding, she instantaneously connected it with Diana’s Point.
“It was an obvious choice from the get-go. The Royal Wedding with Diana’s Point, what a connection. We looked at the Royal Wedding menu and being here in Oman, we looked at the local produce. We customised the items and included goats, pomegranates and rose water. We tailored the menu to Omani produce,” she shared.
While the mountain temperature posed a challenge to have an outdoor long table at the Diana’s Point, the team is working together to bring all the elements of the glamour and prestige of a royal gathering.
“Royal Affairs leaves an open space for interpretation and a great kick off of what could possibly be more,” Dagmar shared.
While luxurious in nature, she added, “in my humble opinion, we have to link with the local communities. This is also what the affair is all about, to be able to elevate local communities and support the productions of local produce.”
As an added touch of genius, Chef Niko and Chef Gaspare will also be sending off attendees with fig jam which is a favourite of the Queen.