What do you cook when you're tasked with preparing a meal that respects the dietary and religious restrictions of 193 nations from around the world?
It's a challenge, admits Daryl Schembeck, chef to the United Nations in New York.
Among the 25 members who belong to Le Club des Chefs des Chefs, an exclusive group of chefs who cook for some of the most powerful leaders in the world, Schembeck has the unique task of having to develop menus that satisfy not just one family's taste buds and culinary traditions, but those of 193 nations.
In addition to acting as a personal chef to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Schembeck has also prepared the Heads of State Luncheons for the UN General Assemblies.
When he first took on the job in 2005, Schembeck says he did his homework, researching the different religious and dietary restrictions of cultures from around the world, and studied past menus developed by previous UN chefs.
"It can be difficult to have that broad appeal," he said at a meeting in Paris, where Le Club des Chefs des Chefs feted its 35th anniversary.
At a recent luncheon, however, Schembeck did his best to respect different cultures and taste buds by serving a loin of lamb with goat cheese and red pepper coulis. Overall, his culinary philosophy when preparing major meals is that it be fast, fresh, and easy to eat, he said.
As for the most memorable meal he's prepared while cooking at the UN, Schembeck recalls a breakfast he prepared in honor of Pope Benedict XVI, in which his goal was to summon the food memories of the Pope's childhood.
After tracing Germany's food history to the age of the Pope's grandmother, Schembeck came up with traditional Bavarian pastries with grapes and cherries. When asked if he received any feedback for his efforts, Schembeck said he got the loudest compliment a chef can receive.
"The plates came back empty."