HeadLine: Star chef is lured back for dinner
The Mirror, 21/12/2000, p5
by SHAUN MILNE & GRAHAM TIBBETTS
MADONNA begged a top Scots chef to return to Skibo and cook her wedding
feast – after learning he had quit the castle only weeks before her big
John Graham-McMahon, 30, resigned as head chef at the exclusive retreat
three weeks ago to join premier Edinburgh caterers LeBistro.
But Madge and Guy Ritchie told bosses at Skibo he had to come back – at
John had cooked the couple romantic meals when they were at Skibo last
December – including the night Guy proposed.
Before he resigned, he sat down with them and prepared a lavish banquet
menu. They were wowed by his mouth-watering offering which, the Mirror
can reveal, has a definite Scottish twist.
Fresh Scottish salmon, bitesize haggis nibbles and medallions of
venison sauteed with black peppercorns served under a pineapple glaze
with a cranberry and armagnac sauce will be among the
John even advised the pair on the best types of champagne, wine and
whisky to accompany the feast.
He made sure all the arrangements were in place before he left – but
Madonna and Guy are such big fans they decided no-one else could take
John was approached with a lucrative deal for a one-off return and,
because he left Skibo on good terms and still has many friends there,
and he happily agreed. One source said: “John is totally flattered
about Madonna and Guy asking him but he would have done it anyway for
the friends he still has at Skibo.”
He arrived at Skibo yesterday to prepare. The main courses won’t be
delivered until Friday to make sure the feast is as fresh as possible.
Fish dishes will use stocks from rivers on the estate, while a team of
40 gardeners will harvest vegetables from the grounds.
John is no stranger to big-name celebrity fans – he cooked for the
likes of Robert De Niro and Paul Weller at Skibo and was the dinner
guest of showbiz darlings Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas.
John studied catering at the Paisley’s Reid Kerr College and worked as
a chef at the town’s former Excelsior Hotel.
His big chance came with a dream move to Skibo Castle and from there he
graduated to catering to the stars.
Madonna’s big day will be something of a dry run for John’s own big day
– he is due to get married in February.
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