I have just finished watching a documentary on Marlon Brando and it's brought back a pile of memories of when I cooked for him for a week in London.

It was in 1988, I was working at The Halcyon Hotel in Kensington. I've written about that hotel before and I know I wasn't exclusively cooking for him but this was a small kitchen brigade, 8 chefs in total so you kind of did cook directly for the guests ... often. You did the breakfast shift on your own, there was only ever 4-5 of us on at any one time and it had a personal feel about it. I think there was only 40 rooms all up plus the restaurant. Very exclusive and very expensive.

Marlon checked in sometime in 88, he had just completed work on a film called A Dry White Season, his first film in almost 10 years, he wasn't even the star and yet he was nominated for an academy award for his role. The man was a god. He was staying at the hotel for a week to "rest and recuperate" from the role, or so we were told. He was to leave from there and begin shooting his next film, The Freshman with Matthew Broderick.

He, like most celebrities, checked into the hotel under a pseudonym, I seriously can't recall what it was, but we were all told which fake name on the guest list was his. We were told because we were given special instructions on how to interact with him if we every crossed paths. There wasn't much chance of us chefs bumping into him unless he got into the wrong lift in the lobby. There was a guest lift and a service lift, the service lift went down to the basement and opened up right near the kitchen. Guests would often get in this lift by mistake and assume the bottom button was the lobby, I still remember quite clearly turning to be greeted by an absolutely shit faced Rod Stewart being pulled back into the service lift by an equally drunk cohort. He managed to yell "orrright?!" at me as the door closed. So rock and roll!

Not much chance of Brando doing that as it turned out, he hardly left his room or his bed, the hotel had wheeled in a big screen TV and a stereo system for him, all with remote controls so he could operate them from his bed. The door to his suite was left open for most of the day so room service could easily wheel in the food he ordered, he ordered a fair bit.

Now back to those special instructions given to all staff. If anyone was to cross paths with Mr Brando they are to remain talking with him until he decided they should leave. In other words, nobody was allowed to just say hello and keep moving. If Brando wanted company... you gave him company. This instruction often caused chaos in the kitchen. As I mentioned this was a small boutique hotel with 40 rooms, so there were often only two room service waiters on at any time. So this is how the problem usually unfolded.

Brando orders some food, I or one of the other chefs cooked this food for him and one of the room service waiters took it up, standard really. That waiter would inevitably enter his room, place the food tray down and not leave for another 2 hours. Brando would corner him or her and talk. I have never been so jealous of a waiter in my life. "Whatcha do at work today?" "Oh nothin much, talked about shit with Marlon Brando for a few hours, that's all". Those lucky, lucky bastards.

Of course this just meant the other room service waiter now had 39 rooms to service, that had to suck, it sure sucked in the kitchen with orders backing up, the head chef screaming at the restaurant manager to get one of his staff in to clear the back log, the restaurant manager pleading that he had none to spare and so on and so on.

There were other stories like the woman who came in for a couple of hours each day to change and arrange the flowers throughout the hotel, I bumped into her one lunch time and commented that she was here late, she just looked at me and said "Brando".

Then one morning that fake name was no longer on the guest list. I remember thinking to myself that this was pretty cool. I was just a young guy from little old Perth who loved to cook and now he was cooking for Marlon Brando and Lauren Bacall and Richard Harris and laughing at Rod Stewart. There were worse ways to make a living.