The Wordrobe meets Eric Lanlard, the chef with a world-famous sweet tooth
Pâtissier, cookbook author and owner of Cake Boy in South West London, Eric Lanlard is one of the globe’s finest pastry chefs – counting the Queen herself as a fan of his creations. Editor Sophie Ritchie caught up with Eric to find out about his impressive career highlights, favourite restaurants and ‘Tasty meets glamorous” baking style.
What inspired you to become a pastry chef?
My parents say that I was five-years-old when I proclaimed to the world that I wanted to be a Pâtissier, which was funny as I never had a sweet tooth.
It was really the glamour of the beautiful Patisserie shop and display which attracted me to the profession – and then when I started baking, I fell in love with the ingredients (mostly chocolate) and how rewarding it was. I never looked back and today I love my job as much as my first day as an apprentice all those years ago.
Where did you train? Tell us more about your culinary background
I trained in Quimper in Brittany, the city where I grew up. When I was ten, I used to drag my mum to the best patisserie there to ask them to put my name down to become an apprentice.
They were surprised but took my details and eight years later, after all my exams at college, I started my two-year apprenticeship there. I graduated with flying colours, becoming the best in the region and France.
After that I went to perfect the art of chocolate making in Luxembourg, before completing my National Service in the French Navy which opened my appetite for travelling even more – where I visited 17 different countries.
I then moved to London to work with the Roux Brothers which at the time, were the only people with three Michelin stars in the UK. I fell in love with London and started my own business in 1995.
What’s been your favourite career highlight so far?
It will have to be when I was officially presented to Her Majesty the Queen. It was such an honour and she spoke French to me as she is fluent.
What’s your favourite sweet treat?
My main inspiration for my recipes is travel. It doesn’t matter if it is for pleasure or work, I always manage to find a new ingredient, scent, technique or presentation which I can use for my upcoming events including The St. Regis Mauritius Resort’s Afternoon Tea, books and TV shows.
I am lucky to work with some of the best travel brands in the world, including ones that really broaden my senses. For example, you can’t beat a slow spit-roasted baby pineapple covert with pure local dark muscovado sugar drenched with local rum, when staying at The St. Regis in Mauritius.
I took the inspiration of this local dish and now use it in one of our glamorous verrines for our Afternoon Tea which people adore.
Describe your cooking style in three words
Tasty, glamorous and entertaining.
Do you have any role models?
Gaston Lenotre was my role model when I was a child. Then I looked up to Pierre Herme when I started my training as his creations were so ground-breaking.
What does hospitality mean to you?
For me, hospitality is blowing people away upon arrival right through to when they leave – creating memories that will stay with them forever.
Name three of your top restaurants
Le Gavroche (London), Noma (Copenhagen) and Central (Lima).
What advice would you offer to aspiring chefs?
Learn your classics before starting to experiment. Old technique will become the foundation of your cooking or baking.
What’s next on the cards?
This year I am starting training for my space flight. I signed up over 12 years ago and it look like the moment has come. No baking in space even if the everlasting souffle sounds good.
Finally… what’s your favourite midnight snack?
Cheese and bread always!