The Club Chefs des Chefs pose for a photograph outside the Mandarin Oriental Ritz in Madrid. / R. C

The chefs of the world's leaders meet up in Madrid

The so-called G20 of gastronomy, formed by the chefs of the heads of state, tastes national recipes on a visit to Madrid

JOHANA GIL BOLAÑOS MADRID.

Queen Elizabeth II adores foie gras; the former President of the United States, George Bush, never liked broccoli; the twins of the Prince and Princess of Monaco like to try new flavours, and at Spain's Moncloa they have healthy appetites. These are some of the culinary secrets told by the chefs of the world's heads of state and government, who met for the first time in Spain through the Club des Chefs des Chefs.

Nearly twenty of the chefs who are members of the association have been to Madrid to try the national flavours and the most representative dishes. The chefs trusted by the leaders of European, African, Asian and American countries have promised to add Spanish recipes to their menus when they return to the presidential kitchens.

The work of these rulers of the presidential kitchens is not easy. Preparing dishes for the same 'client' (Pedro Sánchez, his wife Begoña and daughters Carlota and Ainhoa, plus any guests who may be at the table) every day and not boring them is a job that involves "creativity, knowledge and a degree of risk", says the Moncloa's chef, José Roca. His vision is shared by the rest of the members of the exclusive group, known in the culinary world as the G20 of gastronomy and which was created in 1977.

At Moncloa they eat well. There are "happy days", with desserts and burgers, a few times a month. The majority of meals are healthy dishes and are chosen at the beginning of the week. Roca, with 44 years of experience, sends a list of proposals and receives the schedule for the coming days with some special requests that break the diet.

Albert II of Monaco's chef, Christian Garcia, besides being the president of the club for 15 years, is also the father of twins, the same age as the Monaco princes. The chef, French by birth and with Andalusian origins, has been in the kitchen of the palace for 35 years. He arrived in 1987 with a seven-month work contract and never left.

The chefs' ideas come from the constant expeditions they make with the group. Having the same diner, there is an obligation to take risks with international flavours, it is a gamble that sometimes pays off and sometimes doesn't. But they always try to be innovative.

The founder of the association, Gilles Bragard, pointed out that at the beginning it was a club of friends who fed the leaders of the planet, then a task arose: to be the ambassadors of the gastronomy of each country. Arriving from France, Finland, Germany, Italy, Monaco, Denmark, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Estonia, South Africa, Morocco, Israel, India, Peru, Ecuador and Canada, they all defend their local products, but are not closed to discovering territories through food.

Gastronomy has become the pillar of governments, said Gilles Bragard, quoting the words of 17th century French diplomat Charles Maurice de Talleyrand to Napoleon Bonaparte: "Give me good food and I will make good treaties".