Filet of Sole fit for the Queen

Nelson shares his life experiences as well as his most favoured recipes

Although June is still months away, the thought brings back fond memories for me: it marks the epitome of my navel career and the apex of my cooking career in one single event.

The epitome of my naval career came in the spring of 1959 when I was chosen to cook on the Royal Yacht for the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway, which took place June 26, 1959.

The apex of my cooking career took place on the Royal Yacht. I worked with Mr. Raul Obrey (the Queen’s head chef from Buckingham Palace) on the historic luncheon commemorating the opening of the Seaway.

Present at the luncheon were H. M.  the Queen, H. R. H.  the Duke of Edinburgh, Prime Minister Diefenbaker and Mrs. Diefenbaker, President Eisenhower and Mrs. Eisenhower.

I’ve lost a lot of my mementos over the years, but I still have the menu from that luncheon and my Royal Yacht book with my name to prove that I was a Royal Yachtsman.

The only other celebrity that impressed me even slightly as much as that table of royalty was Jean Beliveau of the Montreal Canadians. He was a gentleman and a nice guy as well and I had the pleasure of cooking a steak for him once.

Back to the Britannia. I flew to England to pick her up in Portsmouth and then onto Canada. I could write a book about my time on the Britannia and I will (someday). It was a marvellous experience and I learned a lot about cooking from the chef.

The most important thing he told me—something I always passed onto my students when I was teaching—do not take short cuts. Good food takes time to prepare and you cannot rush it.

Sounds simple but it’s not so easy to do in this era of fast food and little time.

The chef (Mr. Aubrey) did have some recipes for turning out a fast meal when he had to. As well as the Queen and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, there were 20 others in the royal party, and often they would materialize out of thin air just in time to eat.

One of his favourites in these situations was Filet of Sole with a cheese sauce. Here’s the recipe.


2 whole (or more) fillets of fresh sole, skinned

2 cups of white sauce (half cream and half white wine)

1 cup of grated old cheddar cheese

1 tsp. crushed white pepper

One or two leaves of Romaine lettuce

1 tsp. chopped parsley


Lay the fish out on a heat-proof platter. Spread the sauce and then sprinkle on the cheese. Add the white pepper and broil for 10 – 15 minutes. The cheese should be melts and well-browned. Serve on a Romaine lettuce leaf and garnish with chopped parsley. Serve with rice or baked potatoes. Enjoy.



See Ya Next Week!