MBE chef Simon ‘proud’ to receive honour at Palace
Thursday, 25 May 2017
KILLYLEA man and Yellow Door chef Simon Dougan experienced an occasion that he will never forget when he received his MBE by HRH Prince William surrounded by the splendor of Buckingham Palace last week.
Simon, who received the honour in The Queen's New Year's Honours list, is no stranger to rubbing shoulders with royalty, after welcoming HRH Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall to his Portadown restaurant last year.
Prince William even chatted to Simon about his father's visit, even making a joke at his father's expense. "I'd never actually met Prince William before and he was lovely. He really puts you at ease, he was very approachable, very down to earth.
I walked up to him and he said, 'I haven't seen you at Hillsborough Castle', and I replied, 'That's because I'm in the back with the pots and pans," laughed Simon.
"We then talked about Charles' visit and I said that he had sampled some of the cider, a couple of glasses, and Prince William said, 'Only two! A lightweight!' It was like talking to your mate."
Watching on were Simon's proud wife, Jilly and his parents, Stanley and Lorna, who Simon says were left "over the moon" by the occasion. "It was a very proud moment," he adds. As well as getting to mingle with other Honours' recipients, including television presenter Angela Rippon as well as fellow Northern Ireland attendees, Simon also enjoyed a behind the scenes tour of Clarence House, Prince Charles' residence, where he met with the senior royal's personal chef.
Explaining how it all came about, Simon recalled, "I met him at Hillsborough a few weeks ago. Prince Charles likes a healthy breakfast and likes to have carrot juice each morning but their juicer broke and they contacted me to borrow one. So the chef said to me, 'When you're next in London I'll give you a tour of the kitchen at Clarence House', and I just said, 'Well I'm actually going to be in London in the next couple of weeks'."
As well as being impressed by the industrial kitchen, Simon adds that he also given insight into what Prince Charles is like as the head of the Clarence House household. "There was food siting out, some sirloin steaks and I said to the chef, 'Who are they for?', and he said, 'Oh they're for the staff'. Prince Charles' attitude is that he's eating organic beef, then his staff should have it to. It's a very nice touch," he explains.
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