(KMSP) - They saw Prince nearly every day for three years, and they can tell you what was on his menu. Ray Roberts was Prince’s personal chef, and he and his wife, Juell, prepared Prince’s meals for three years — including the day before he died.
They can tell you some of Prince’s favorite foods: avocados and a flatbed pizza with corn on it. They can tell you what Prince ate during his more human moments: a chocolate mouse cake called “special occasion,” or neapolitan Haagen-Dazs ice cream. And yes, Prince would order the famous Paisley Park pancakes served after late-night parties.
Almost every evening, Ray would arrive at Paisley Park with fresh ingredients to prepare meals for Prince and his band members. “I always felt so fortunate to have probably the coolest soundtrack to cook to, ever,” Ray told Fox 9.
In addition to daily meals, the married couple who own People’s Organic, would often respond to calls to to help at parties, and even on the road.
“I'll never forget, I was doing the dishes, and it was the first time we heard him play Purple Rain, and I stopped, and I turned around and looked at Ray and said ‘is this what I think it is?’” Juell told Fox 9.
Prince was known for pushing his musicians, and the Roberts say he also pushed Ray’s cooking skills. “Everyone he worked with, like Ray, he challenged everyone in whatever profession it was, to be better than what they were. And so it's amazing, even with Ray, I've seen growth in his skills,” Juell said.
The couple’s culinary duet with greatness began when one of Prince’s co-producers showed up at the Peoples Organic location in Edina. Juell said she thought the man was a vendor, and avoided any discussion — until he whispered in her ear.
“When he whispered in me ear, ‘it’s for Prince,’ I was like, ‘sit down, I’ll be right with you,’” Juell laughingly told Fox 9. A meeting at Paisley Park would soon follow, and then an opportunity to cook for the band, and then, finally, to cook for Prince. The couple’s gig would end with Prince’s death. Prince was not feeling well in the days before his death, according to Ray. Their last conversation was on Monday.
The Roberts attended the private memorial service at Paisley Park, and the dance party at First Avenue, but they said they had to leave the party after ten minutes because it was so difficult to hear Prince’s music.
“It was beautiful to see everybody come together and honor him, but it was hard. There's mourning the musician, which the world is doing, and then there's mourning the man. And I think we're just mourning the man,” Juell told Fox 9.
The Roberts say they plan to honor Prince by serving some of his favorite dishes at Peoples Organic beginning next month.
“He really cared about people. And I wish that is where the focus would be on. He loved people, and he loved this world,” Juell said.