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King Charles, 74, and his wife Queen Camilla, 75, were in East London on Wednesday. As part of his tour of Tower Hamlets, the King paid a visit to Brick Lane, where he met locals who lined the streets to welcome him.
One very excited business owner and chef took the opportunity to invite the King into his shop to eat some shawarma, a popular meaty fast food originating from the Middle East.
The King appeared to appreciate the offer, but made one special request from the menu.
After informing the King that he is originally from Syria, chef Azzam was asked if he could make anything with aubergine.
To that, the chef offered to prepare a “smoked aubergine purée” known as “baba ghanoush”.
As the chef and the King engaged in pleasantries, Charles asked the chef: “Are you cooking in a restaurant?” The chef replied: “Yes this is my shawarma shop. We make lovely shawarma.”
The King then says: “I bet it is.” The chef then pleads with the King to allow him to make him one, while the King laughs before asking: “Would you do wonderful things with aubergines?”
The chef then tells him: “I’ve been doing it since I was eight years old. I make a wonderful aubergine dish called baba ghanoush.”
The King replies: “I will have to come and try it,” before being ushered down the line to greet dozens of other royal fans waiting to shake his hand.
Chef Azzam said: “It was an honour to meet His Majesty, King Charles III. He seemed very intrigued when I told him I was from Syria.
“I knew that would get his attention because he’s known to love Arab and Middle Eastern culture.”
He added: “Meeting him really made me realise there are some things that money just can’t buy. I mean, here is a man who has everything, yet he still had 30 seconds of his life to give to a conversation with a regular Syrian guy he met on the street.
“I really wanted him to try my shawarma because it really is the best in London and we have the online reviews to prove it. I even had it ready for him and I saw his eyes light up as soon as I invited him in to try some.
“He asked if I made anything with aubergine and I told him I could make him a nice baba ghanoush which is like a smoked aubergine purée.
“I’ve been making this since I was eight years old but I never expected I’d one day be offering it to the King of England.
“I’m sure if it wasn’t for his security team pushing him along he would have actually come in.
“I hope he comes back more prepared next time. I will make him a shawarma fit for a King, or if he prefers something vegetarian, my falafel is good too.
“Maybe he will call to order to Buckingham Palace, who knows? He is always welcome,” the chef told MyLondon.
Boasting a 4.6 rating, his shop on 84 Brick Lane has received reviews on Google saying things like “The best shawarma I’ve ever had,” and “The best shawarma in the Eastend and central London”.
Meanwhile, another person wrote: “I’ve had shawarma from restaurants all over the world but nothing comes close to this!
“Their lamb shawarma is affordable, aptly portioned and tastes out of this world, I would recommend everyone who comes to Brick Lane to eat here!”
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