Eric Lanlard, master pâtissier and twice winner of the prestigious Continental Pâtissier of the Year at the British Baking Awards, has changed the face of British pastry and through his bespoke cake-making brand, Savoir Design, has won over an A-list audience including Madonna, Sir Elton John and Elizabeth Hurley. He fronts the series Glamour Puds on Channel 4 and owns the renowned Cake Boy boutique in south west London. Eric talks to Hotcourses about his pastry and cake career and cooking in space.
Q. How did you get into pâtisserie?
Eric Lanlard: I’ve always wanted to be a pastry chef – apparently I announced it to my family aged six, which is when I started making cakes! In France every village and town has a pâtisserie shop, so from the age of 17 I looked around and chose where I wanted to do my apprenticeship. I started making everything from bread to chocolate and won lots of prizes. I did my national service and then got the chance to work on the Jeanne d’Arc – the flagship of the national navy. We were left to get on with it and we used to cook for diplomats and heads of state.
Q. What special skills to you need to be a master pâtissier?
Eric Lanlard: Patience is key. The training is intense and takes time. You need to ensure that you have a passion for desserts and cakes because it’s hard work – very early starts and long days and it’s physical. You need to be able to work quickly and neatly and have an aptitude for science – baking is a science and not an art – pâtisserie marries science with art. You also need to have an eye for detail, as so much of it is in the finishing.
Q. Do you have a favourite cake?
Eric Lanlard: I don’t really have a sweet tooth and prefer cheese but my favourite puddings to make when I am entertaining at home are tarte tatin, chocolate fondants, meringues and I’m a great fan of soufflés.
Q. Can anyone come along to the school at your shop Cake Boy?
Eric Lanlard: Yes, anyone can come along. We have a weekly schedule and run themed classes. They are designed to be informative and fun. It’s hands on and the classes are suitable for beginners and experts alike. The cookery class schedule can be downloaded from the website: www.cake-boy.com
Q. Tell us about Virgin’s Intergalactic programme, where you will be one of the first chefs in space.
Eric Lanlard: Yes it’s true, I’ve signed up for space. It took a lot of vintage champagne and a little convincing! I think I’ll enjoy the view on the first flight and would like to cook on the second flight – that’s if I come back! I’ve always loved travel and this is the ultimate fantasy.
Q. What do you think of English cooking?
Eric Lanlard: I think it’s improved vastly since I first arrived in this country 22 years ago. People are a lot more educated and knowledgeable about produce and healthier eating. Food programmes and people like Jamie Olivier and Nigella have had a brilliant influence. The supermarkets do a really good job too. Just being able to find top quality ingredients from first-rate producers is a real joy.
Q. Tell us some of your favourite places to eat in London.
Eric Lanlard: My all-time favourite is Le Gavroche, not just because of the amazing food and service, but for the opportunities that the Roux family gave to me when I first came to this country. I make a yearly pilgrimage to Le Gavroche, it’s a very special treat.
Q. What advice can you give to aspiring pâtissiers out there?
Eric Lanlard: Work hard and learn from the best and, most of all, be passionate.
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