Almost a decade on, local celebrity butcher Vince Garreffa still clearly recalls convincing Prince Philip to barbecue some Aussie snags.
Mr Garreffa cooked for the Duke of Edinburgh when he and the Queen visited Perth for the Commonwealth Heads Of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in 2011. He barbecued fresh WA produce for the visiting Royals in order to display the best meat and seafood the state has to offer.
Following the Prince’s recent death, many people are sharing their experiences of ‘Phil the Greek’s’ particular – and often controversial – brand of statesmanship. Mr Garreffa is no exception.
“I got a phone call from the CHOGM president…and they asked me if I would be interested in cooking for the big sausage sizzle that they were creating on the foreshore of Perth. And I said if it’s for charity I’m in,” Mr Garreffa said.
He was shortly contacted again by CHOGM, who said he was not cooking sausages for the crowds as he had thought but was in fact cooking WA produce for the Duke of Edinburgh. He was told that this information “was not for public consumption” – in other words, it was top secret.
Mr Gareffa is a self-styled “clayton celebrity” who has been a part of the Inglewood and the wider Perth community for more than 40 years.
The now-owner of Mondos, formerly ‘Mondo di Carne’ (world of meat), arrived in Australia as a child from Calabria, Italy.
Prince Philip has visited Australia more than 20 times in more than 72 years. The last time he visited Australia was when Mr Garreffa cooked for him.
“When he showed up on that lovely morning, the sun was shining, we were all dressed to the nines in our best work outfits, the food was exquisite, everything from meats to seafoods, it was really just the best produce in the world,” Mr Garreffa said.
According to Mr Garreffa, the Royals do not eat during public engagements, but that did not deter the butcher from trying to get the Prince to turn a steak.
“So I turned around to him and I said well if that’s no good sir, all of these amazing people that are here, that are watching, they only want to see one thing to make sure that you are a true leader of Australians,” said Mr Garreffa.
“You have to know how to turn a couple of steaks on the barbecue, and considering you’ve got one of the best barbecues in the world back home, I can’t see how you can say no to me.”
“And sure enough, he turned over some steaks,” Mr Garreffa later added.
According to Mr Garreffa, more than three billion people worldwide watched Prince Philip show off his cooking skills on an Aussie barbecue.