Eric Lanlard, Master Pâtissier has earned himself an international reputation for superlative baked creations for an impressive A-list clientele. He is according to Vanity Fair magazine – one of the best patissiers in the world. Having trained in France, Eric Lanlard moved to London where aged 22 he became the head pastry chef for Albert and Michel Roux. He stayed there for five years before launching his own business, Cake Boy, a destination café, cake emporium and cookery school based in London. Eric Lanlard’s skills and talent have turned him into a ‘much in demand’ baking global ambassador and he creates afternoon teas for luxury hotel and travel brands worldwide. Eric Lanlard is an experienced TV presenter and has presented four baking series’ for Channel 4’s Glamour Puds and Baking Mad with Eric Lanlard. He is a regular contributor and guest on some of the UK’s most loved TV food shows including The Great British Bake Off and Masterchef the Professionals. He is an author of 8 books including Master Cakes, Chocolat and co-author of Cox Cookies and Cake. Eric’s latest book, Afternoon Tea it out now. Please enjoy my interview with Eric Lanlard…
How do you describe your occupation?
I am a Master Patissier and own a café, cake lounge and cookery school that goes by the name of Cake Boy.
Usually, my working day starts at 6am at Cake-Boy, my Patisserie where my team and I bake all our goods ready for the 8am opening. I will usually be in the kitchen helping with production until 10.30am. I then move on to the office to work on recipe development or upcoming projects for the different brand partners that we work with. A trip to the gym or pilates will end the day before I head home.
Cake Boy is also a baking school, where we run classes every two weeks – I teach the classes and even make the lunch for the students so that also forms part of my day during the term time! My evening is made of a bit of healthy cooking and catching up on TV, and I am usually in bed by news at 10pm.
What are you reading at the moment and what made you want to read it?
Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris. I love thrillers and I am secretly a nosy person. I am always curious to find out what is going on behind the façade of people that present themselves and their lives or family relationships as perfect. I get my recommendations from reviews in newspapers and magazines.
Can you remember the first book you read by yourself?
From the age of eight, I had a subscription to the weekly Walt Disney magazine and then moved on to the Famous 5 by Enid Blyton which was known in France as “Le Club Des Cinq”.
Are you a page folder or a bookmarker?
As a child, what were your favourite meals?
Sunday lunch – we all sat down together as a family. My parents were always very busy and it was really the only day of the week that my parents would make a big effort to create a feast with all the trimmings which would include a dessert, of course with lots of cakes from our local patisserie.
If you could gift yourself books at age 16 and age 25 – what would they be and why?
Age 16, I was fascinated by detective stories and thrillers, this is when I first discovered Agatha Christie. I would have loved to own or borrow her complete works. Aged 25, I was and still obsessed by the history of baking, patisserie and cooking. I treated myself a few years ago to the original books of ‘the King of Chefs’, Antonin Careme which I bought from an antique book dealer. Antonin Careme was a French born 19th chef and culinary genius who created masterpieces for royalty. I wish I could have afforded more of his books when I was younger. They are full of inspiration and make you realise how hard chefs were working back then.
I remember the first time I baked on my own – as a surprise for my mum I tried to make eclairs at the age of 6. They looked more like chocolate crepes than eclairs. My mum was horrified by the mess I left in the kitchen but did appreciate the gesture and like all good parents, she lied and said that the eclairs tasted delicious.
If you could invite 5 authors (dead or alive) to a dinner party – who would they be and why?
Agatha Christie, as she will probably organise a murder mystery at the aperitif and will have it solved by the time the dessert is served. Julia Child, the US food writer, as she will help me to cook some fabulous classic dishes without all the modern gimmick; and I will love her to shout her trade mark “Bonne Apettit” as we start eating. The late great Sunday Times restaurant critic, A A Gill. He was such a brilliant Bon Viveur and a great writer known for his acerbic wit. He will, of course, cause controversy with one of the guests (probably Julia Child) and that will be amusing! French author Alexandre Dumas, who wrote about my youth heroes, The Three Musketeers and The Conte of Monte Cristo. Finally, Jules Vernes, as I read most of his books as a teenager and he is responsible for my love of travelling, exploring and my future space trip.
What was the last book you purchased, and why did you buy it?
Sisi: Empress on Her Own by Allison Pataki. I grew up watching a French TV series on Sisi with one of my cinema icons Romy Schneider.
What is your favourite thing about reading?
It is really the relaxation, the sense of discovery and the thrill you can get by just reading a few pages.
What’s the best book you’ve read in the last 6 months?
As a future astronaut, it will have to be From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Vernes.
What two pieces of advice would you give to someone aspiring for a career in food?
Be prepared to work hard and widen your horizons by travelling.
What is the book that you feel has had the single biggest impact on your life? What impact did it have?
Jules Vernes’ Extraordinary Travels. He really opened my desire for adventure and my craving for travel to discover the world. It was rare back then to want to step outside of France.
If you could only own three cookbooks, which would you pick and why?
If you weren’t in food, what do you think you’d be doing?
I hae no idea since I decided to be a Pastry Chef when I was aged 5.
Which book sat on your shelf are you most excited about reading next and why?
I haven’t got one yet, but after watching the Great Comet in New York recently I am fascinated with the Napoleonique period in Russia. So maybe a Tolstoy novel will be next on my reading list.