Writer \/\/ Janelle Morrison Photography \/\/ Submitted If you ever met him on the street, you would never know that one of Carmel\u2019s own, Chef David H. Dodd, MBE, CEC, CCE, has a rich history of creating culinary masterpieces for members of the British royal family and has fed numerous military and other historical figures over the decades. Dodd, a brilliant master of the culinary arts, is as humble as they get. Dodd resides in Carmel with his wife, Denise, and travels to Louisville, Kentucky, where he is the executive director for Sullivan University\u2019s National Center for Hospitality Studies. Dodd\u2019s complete life story is a fascinating biography all in all, but the part of his story on how he got started, what his life was like as a young British man\u2014post World War II\u2014and how he landed the coveted post as royal cake designer for Princess Anne\u2019s wedding cake in 1973 is what captivated me the most. Dodd was raised by his mother, grandmother and aunts in Portsmouth, England. His father left when Dodd was only 2 years of age. He recalled playing in the ruins as a young boy, as his town suffered significant damage from air raids during the war. \u201cA lot of Portsmouth was derelict,\u201d Dodd shared. \u201cThere were damaged houses and such, but for 9- and 10-year-old boys, it was a playground like you wouldn\u2019t believe. My father left when I was 2, and so I was brought up by my grandmother, my aunts and my mother. At the age of 13, my mother remarried. I didn\u2019t with that individual, so in 1958, at age 15, I decided to leave home.\u201d Dodd\u2019s school guidance counselor suggested Dodd explore his passion for the arts, which led Dodd into a government-sponsored apprenticeship in London for three years. Afterward, Dodd began his military career with the British Army. \u201cAt the age of 17, I \u2018woke up,\u2019\u201d Dodd shared. \u201cI thought that I\u2019d better start to do something, so when I left the apprenticeship, I moved straight into the army and loved it. I had everything I needed: comradeship, friendship and travel. It was great.\u201d Dodd married his first wife at a young age and needed his mother\u2019s permission to do so. \u201cI could go into battle, but I couldn\u2019t get married until I was 21 without her permission,\u201d Dodd recalled. \u201cThat was a whole other battle.\u201d A year into his marriage, Dodd was drafted overseas to Yemen (formerly Aden), which was a British protectorate at that time. \u201cThere was nothing there ,\u201d Dodd said. \u201cNo wife. No nothing. Just the desert and a lot of people that didn\u2019t want us there.\u201d An injury brought Dodd back to England to a military hospital in Catterick, where he was assigned chef\/kitchen duties while he recovered. Dodd\u2019s first wife joined him there. The next two years of Dodd\u2019s life led him to working directly for General Gordon Upjohn and his wife at their home at Scotten Hall, where he not only rose up in military rank but also gained invaluable experience as head chef and \u201csouffl\u00e9 king.\u201d \u201cI had two years with the general and his wife,\u201d Dodd said. \u201cHer ladyship taught me so much about food, and those two years, I made dinner for all sorts of people, including the King of Sweden and Duke of Edinburgh.\u201d When General Upjohn retired, he sat with Dodd to discuss his next assignment. The general had a friend, General Sir John Hackett, who needed a chef. Hackett was appointed command of the British Army of the Rhine and parallel command of NATO\u2019s Northern Army Group in 1966. \u201cHe was a very well-known and brilliant general,\u201d Dodd said. \u201cHe was something else.\u201d Dodd was assigned to General Hackett\u2019s staff, which included managing the general\u2019s kitchens, including all his residences, his plane, boat and personal train cars. Dodd\u2019s first wife and first born moved to Rheindahlen, Germany, to be with Dodd during this assignment. Upon General Hackett\u2019s retirement, Dodd was once again asked where he would like to be reassigned. Dodd suggested Hong Kong, but the general felt that Dodd\u2019s talents would be lost in Asia and recommended that Dodd go back to school and become certified to be a culinary instructor. Dodd and his family moved back to England, where he became the youngest instructor at the British Army\u2019s culinary school. He began competing during this time, which caught the attention of Chef Jack Owens, a chef renowned throughout Europe. \u201cChef was the most difficult person in the world to work for,\u201d Dodd stated. \u201cHe wasn\u2019t arrogant. He was past that. He took off to the side after a competition and said, \u2018You know, you have some natural talent, but you have no clue what you\u2019re doing.\u2019 I said, \u2018You are probably correct, sir.\u2019\u201d According to Dodd, Owens offered to train and privately instruct Dodd in the evenings, which Dodd wisely accepted. Four years later, Dodd received his certification, equivalent to a master\u2019s degree in the U.S. One of Chef Dodd's commissioned sugar masterpieces. After more than 20 years in the British Army, Dodd received his Master Chef and Master Pastry Chef Diplomas from the City and Guilds of London Institute, in addition to numerous awards, titles and other accolades. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II awarded Dodd membership to the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for his laudatory services to the culinary profession as well. The Royal Wedding Cake Having caught the attention of Queen Elizabeth II, after designing and creating cakes for other members of the royal family, including a military-themed birthday cake for a then young Prince Andrew, it came to pass that Dodd was selected out of numerous pastry chefs to design and create the royal wedding cake for Princess Anne. Dodd was given two weeks, from the time he was alerted that he had been selected by the head of the Royal Household, to create designs and present them to the queen. \u201cI took the design to Buck House , and the only thing that the queen did not like about any of the drawings were these two small bells with a ribbon that I put on the top tier,\u201d Dodd shared. \u201cShe said, \u2018It\u2019s a little twee.\u2019 I\u2019ve never really figured out what twee really means, but it\u2019s sort of a \u2018We don\u2019t think that we\u2019re going to have that.\u2019 So, I put the couple\u2019s initials at the top instead.\u201d The royal cake designs, as well as Dodd\u2019s work, were top secret, and extravagant measures were taken to keep the design from leaking to the press. The only reason there is a video and photographs of the princess\u2019s cake is because Dodd hid a camera in his wastebasket. He understood the historical importance this cake represented and wasn\u2019t going to miss the opportunity to document his experience to share with generations on down the road. THE PRINCESS ROYAL AND CAPTAIN MARK PHILLIPS WEDDING\/ NOVEMBER 1973-The Royal Wedding cake, with cake-maker David Dodd. The only visitor who was granted permission to visit Dodd was his former mentor, Chef Jack Owens. Owens was battling cancer at that time and was no longer working. \u201cHe came the day before we moved the cake to Buck House,\u201d Dodd recalled. \u201cHe came in with a colonel whom he was going to have lunch with that day. He said, \u2018I thought I\u2019d stop by and look at the cake if I can.\u2019 I opened the blue velvet-lined English oak boxes that were made specifically for the cake. He started at the large end of the cake and walked down. He didn\u2019t look at me but at the colonel and said, \u2018Should we go for lunch?\u2019\u201d A dumbfounded Dodd just stared at Owens as he started toward the door to leave. \u201cHe walked to the door,\u201d Dodd said. \u201cHe turned around and said, \u2018Oh, by the way, you\u2019ve done nothing to be ashamed of.\u2019 That was the last thing he ever said to me.\u201d The day of the wedding, Dodd arrived, via escort, at Buckingham Palace to construct the five-tiered cake early in the morning. \u201cI went down to see the princess off,\u201d Dodd said. \u201cShe came down that long staircase, and she was beautiful.\u201d After 20 years of service to the British Army and members of the royal family, then Sergeant Major David Dodd of the Army Catering Corps retired from the military, and another exciting chapter began for him. Life Across the Pond Dodd was selected to head up the first-ever culinary arts team for the U.S. Army in 1975. He went to Fort Lee, Virginia, where one of his first students, the late Walter Rhea, went on to become a director at Sullivan University. Rhea would later convince Dodd to come to the university to teach. Dodd founded the university\u2019s Lexington Culinary Campus in 2005 and has led the National Center for Hospitality Studies as executive director since 2014.