You might not think that the Ritz London needs putting on the map.

Since opening its doors in 1906, the hotel has become a global byword for luxury, long before Julia Roberts stopped there in Notting Hill. Suites can cost thousands of pounds a night. Fancy afternoon tea? The wait for a table can be nine months, even though there are five seatings a day, beginning at 11:30 a.m. and finishing eight hours later. Prices start at £57 ($73).

Yet the restaurant, housed in one of the most beautiful dining rooms in Europe, has received fewer accolades than you might expect. It only won a Michelin star two years ago, and many diners still don’t realize that the food and service are superb. Yes, prices are high, but the luncheon menu at £57 would be in reach of the thousands of guests trying for afternoon tea.

Chef John Williams is trying to achieve the wider respect and recognition that the restaurant deserves, and he just published the hotel’s first cookbook in its 112-year history, with recipes for everything from scrambled eggs with salmon, through honey-glazed duck with lavender & hay to the Ritz trifle.

OK, you might not want to try them all at home. The ingredients alone for a dish such as mosaic of game en croûte (including “equal quantities of woodcock, pheasant, wild duck and Bresse duck breast) present a formidable challenge before you even attempt to make it. But not all are so difficult, and Williams himself is a remarkably down-to-earth chef from a working class family in the northeast of England. He still speaks with his distinctive Tyneside accent.

One of the most popular dishes on the menu is Aromatic Nage of Dublin Bay Prawns. Williams, 60, cooks it for me in the basement kitchen at the Ritz, when he speaks fondly of his childhood.

“My dad was a fisherman,” he says. “So these prawns, I was never able actually to have the tails. The tails were sent for scampi. But the claws, he used to bring and he’d say, ‘Here lad, crack that open.’ And I used to suck on it like a lolly. And it was such a special thing. That’s why they have become special to me today. I came from a family of six kids, and my mother chose me as the helper. The first thing she ever taught me to do was to scrape the Jersey Royals.” He helped her prepare those potatoes with mint sauce.

As a young chef, he walked past the Ritz and decided he would work there one day. He has gone on to cook for kings, queens and leading politicians. The late British prime minister Margaret Thatcher was a particular fan of his apple & bramble dessert. Williams has come a long way from his childhood in South Shields, a five-hour drive north of London.

“It’s one hell of a journey,” he says.

Here is his recipe for those prawns:

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