Meet Eric Lanlard

From cooking on cruise ships to the launch of a new book, the 'Cake Boy' is a busy man. We caught up with him to discover what he likes best about Christmas

WHAT ARE YOUR FESTIVE TRADITIONS?

I celebrate the traditional French way on 24 December, just like I did when growing up in Brittany. We have dinner as a family – good local oysters, partridge, cheese and a Yule log – then open presents.

DO YOU HAVE ANY TOP TIPS FOR ENTERTAINING?

People put themselves under so much pressure. Try to plan the menu a couple of weeks ahead and share the work. My mum would always ask aunties and cousins to help out, someone else would be in charge of the Yule log and the men would be responsible for opening the oysters. It made life easier and it’s nice to come together and cook.

WHAT DESSERT SHOULD BE ON OUR CHRISTMAS TABLE THIS YEAR?

Chocolate fondant served with oranges spiced with cinnamon and star anise. It looks and tastes fantastic and works better made the day before then left in the fridge overnight. Once the fondant is cooked, a lovely lava will ooze out of the centre.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR MOST MEMORABLE CHRISTMAS MEAL.

I used to be a member of a club in Scotland and the place was always magical, but especially when it snowed. Every year all the chefs would wheel a giant Christmas pudding into the dining room. Both the location and the food were the epitome of Christmas.

WHAT DO YOU PREFER – MINCE PIES OR CHRISTMAS CAKE?

I like mince pies in the build-up but on the day itself I prefer a slice of traditional Christmas cake. My favourite way to eat it is with cheese; it’s particularly delicious with a wedge of wensleydale or cheddar.

YOU RECENTLY COOKED ON SHIPS CRUISING THE MEDITERRANEAN AND IBERIAN PENINSULA. HOW DID YOU FIND COOKING ON A BOAT?

It wasn’t novel for me because I did my two-year national service in the French Navy on a flagship, so I am used to cooking on the high seas. I really enjoyed it. My second passion after baking is travel so it was a great success.

HOW WILL YOU BE SPENDING CHRISTMAS THIS YEAR?

I’ll be in the South African sunshine, just outside Cape Town. It probably won’t feel very Christmassy but I’ll make it festive somehow.

WHAT DOES 2016 HAVE IN STORE?

I will keep visiting the cruise ships and I’m launching a new book in June, Eric Lanlard’s Afternoon Tea. It will include savoury macaroons, which form part of my signature afternoon tea. I’m also doing a few more pop-ups – I’ve just launched one in London – and an afternoon tea in Stratos at Le Royal Meridien, Abu Dhabi.


Find out more about Eric Lanlard at cake-boy.co.uk