Grub's up! Heston Blumenthal hosts Britain's poshest picnic as 12,000 guests dine on Buckingham Palace lawn10,000 ballot winners and a further 2,000 from charities associated with the Royal FamilyTicket-holders queued for hours down the MallRoyal baker Fiona Cairns and the Queen’s chef Mark Flanagan also helped design dishes
18:55 GMT, 4 June 2012
As a three-star Michelin chef renowned for his whacky concoctions such as snail porridge, he wasn’t the obvious choice to create a picnic fit for the Queen. But that is exactly what Heston Blumenthal did.
The world-renowned British chef conjured up a remarkable five-course menu for 12,000 lucky guests who secured free tickets for today’s Diamond Jubilee concert at Buckingham Palace.
The classic hampers featured traditional British dishes such as coronation chicken and Eton mess with a Blumenthal twist – although, unfortunately, there wasn’t a puff of his trademark liquid nitrogen in sight.
Lavish affair: A couple find a spot away from the crowds in the grounds of Buckingham Palace to enjoy their special five-course picnic
Guests began with a chilled country garden soup comprised of baby plum tomatoes and a mint-infused oil, followed by Lapsang Souchong tea-smoked Scottish salmon and Diamond Jubilee chicken.
Heston was keen to include the chicken dish as it was originally devised to celebrate the Queen’s official crowning in 1953 and is, surprisingly, a particular favourite of the chef himself.
VERDICT: HESTON BLUMENTHAL'S JUBILEE PICNIC
Debby Smith, 43, from Manchester, gave a mixed reaction to Blumenthal's Diamond Jubilee chicken, an update of Coronation chicken which was created to mark the Queen's coronation in 1953.
'I tried the little chicken dish and made it into a sandwich. I'm not a lover of Coronation chicken but it's certainly edible.'
‘My family used to go for picnics in
Windsor Great park and I used to try and wolf it down before everyone
else. It’s just the ultimate curry,’ he said.
His included a special secret blend of Indian spices with mayonnaise, shredded chicken, coriander and peppery nigella seeds.
It was followed by a Sandringham Strawberry Crumble Crunch with fruit from the Queen’s own estate, meringue, cream and an oat-crumble topping as well as tiny chocolate cakes featuring gold crowns and topped with popping candy, lemon and caraway madeira cake and a cheeseboard.
There was also vegetarian, dairy and gluten free options.
Apparently the Queen tried each and every dish – which took six months to create with the help of royal head chef Mark Flanagan- and gave her seal of approval.
Mr Blumenthal told the Mail: ‘Despite my name I am British through and through and very proud of it. Who would have thought when I was chopping onions a few years ago that I would now be cooking for the Queen.’
The hampers were provided by the Queen’s warrant holder, supermarket Waitrose. Chief executive officer Mark Price said: ‘Her Majesty has personally tasted every dish and has been involved in creating everything that goes into the hamper. Her attention to detail is legendary and we are very proud to be involved in creating them as our Jubilee gift to her.’
Heston's hamper: Coronation chicken, Heston style, crunch crudites, lemon and cardamon madeira cake, a cheeseboard featuring West Country farmhouse cheddar and Red Leicester crunch, and the Prince of Wales' Duchy Originals oat cakes
In the spirit of things: Partygoers opted for flamboyant attire as they geared up for celebrations at Buckingham Palace
Wacky dress sense! Mark Orford opted for a colourful Mohican while Diane Dourish from Alnwick in the north of England wore some eye-catching shades
Members of the public queue up to get into Buckingham Palace for the afternoon picnic and evening concert
Each wicker basket also included a
voucher for a glass of Moet and Chandon champagne or Cobra beer – ‘very
civilised’, as one palace aide put it.
Given Sunday’s inclement conditions, it was also prudent of the palace
to have included a waterproof poncho as well as a patriotic Union Jack –
although thankfully only a few spots of rain could be felt.
And as the gates opened at 3pm, a
throng of people –many dressed in patriotic red, white and blue – poured
through the entrance and into the gardens to devour their treat as a
steel pan band from St Vincent and St Lucia optimistically played
‘Feelin’ Hot Hot Hot’.
Among them was Pam Smith, from
Huddersfield, who was celebrating her 60th birthday. ‘I almost didn’t
come as I forgot to check my emails which told me I had been successful –
so what a marvellous present,’ she said.
Diane Dourish, 63, and husband George, 65, from Alnwick, Northumberland
wore eye-catching Union flag headbands they had been given at a street
party on Sunday.
Diane said: ‘I had a lump in my throat when I came back here, the palace looks unbelievable, it's such an honour.
Royal Chef Mark Flanagan and Heston Blumenthal present their Jubilee feast
Heston was interviewed outside Buckingham Palace by Sky News as guests tucked into his picnic
What's in the bag Sky News reporters opened their hamper to reveal the contents which were created by experimental chef Heston Blumenthal
Palatial setting: An aerial shot of Buckingham Palace and its grounds
Time to refuel: Guests at the Jubilee Picnic spent time relaxing in the Palace grounds after queuing for several hours
‘I entered the ballot because I wanted to see Elton John then I totally
forgot about it and bought tickets to see him at the Newcastle Arena
next week for 87.
‘Then I got my tickets, so I'm going to see him next week as well anyway.’
Janyne Littlewood, a 40-year-old primary school teacher from Co Durham,
was dressed in a Union flag suit she had bought over the internet. ‘It’s
a once in a lifetime opportunity so you might as well go for it,’ she
Towards the end of the mini garden party, several members of the royal
family – the Duke of York and his daughters, Princess Beatrice and
Princess Eugenie, Princess Anne and the Earl and Countess of Wessex –
arrived at the palace to meet and greet some of the Queen’s guests.
‘This day just couldn’t get any better,’ said 29-year-old Katie
Wheatley, from Eastbourne. And that was before the concert had even
Of the guests invited, 10,000 were ballot winners and a further 2,000 were from charities associated with the Royal Family.
Carole Middleton and her youngest daughter Pippa also attended the palace picnic
Of the guests invited 10,000 were ballot winners and a further 2,000 were from charities associated with the Royal Family
A right royal outing: Two women sport eye-catching headgear as they enter the Buckingham Palace grounds
Melanie Doyle from Glazebury in Cheshire shows
off her invitation (left) and Saba Rehman from Croydon and Jo Grant from
Tooting get in the Union Flag spirit
A woman takes her glass of free champagne during the Buckingham Palace celebration
Pam Smith, who celebrated her 60th birthday today, praised the event (left) while Jayne Littlewood and her mother Anne Randle posed for photos (right)
Budge up! Large crowds gather in the Mall as
they wait for the start of the concert featuring Sir Paul McCartney, JLS
and Sir Elton John
A FEAST FIT FOR A QUEEN: HESTON'S ROYAL JUBILEE HAMPER MENU
The contents of the Diamond Jubilee picnic produced by Heston Blumenthal with Royal Chef Mark Flanagan
Chilled country garden soup with baby plum tomatoes & mint-infused oilLapsang Souchong tea-smoked Scottish salmonDiamond Jubilee chicken – with a secret blend of Indian spice, mayonnaise, coriander & nigella seedsThe vegetarian option is Mushroom parfait with roasted mushroom puree blended
with a port, brandy & Madeira reduction
Sandringham Strawberry Crumble Crunch – featuring fruit from the Queen’s own estate, meringue, cream & an oat-crumble toppingChocolate cupcake topped with little gold crowns & Heston's favourite popping candyLemon & caraway Madeira cupcakeA cheeseboard featuring West Country farmhouse cheddar & Red Leicester, Prince Charles' Duchy Originals oats biscuits & harvest chutney
12 Hand wipesClear plastic cutlery & napkinDiamond Jubilee ponchoUnion flagVouchers which can be exchanged for a glass of Moet & Chandon Champagne, Cobra beer or Hildon water