Eric Lanlard's description of himself on Twitter is: "Owner of CAKE-BOY.com, Eric is a future Virgin Galactic Astronaut and chef presenter of BAKING MAD WITH ERIC LANLARD on Channel 4."
He is also cake designer to the stars, having rustled up sweet treats for the likes of Madonna, Elton John, Claudia Schiffer and Elizabeth Hurley. Eric's Battersea base, Cake Boy is part cake emporium, part cookery school and totally fabulous. Think less ordinary coffee lounge and more sumptuous boutique with decadent chandeliers and jewel-toned leather armchairs filled with only the chicest of hen parties, baby showers and those who just can't get enough great cake.
And, as if all that weren't enough, Eric is also partners with Patrick Cox in London's sexiest cupcake shop, Cox, Cookies & Cake and has just published a new book: Eric Lanlard's Master Cakes, showcasing more than 20 of his most show-stopping creations.
We spoke to Frenchman and committed anglophile Eric about life as the most glamorous cake designer in the business:
Eric, you began your career more than 20 years ago at the respected Le Grand Patisserie, Brittany. Were desserts always your passion, or did you consider other avenues in the food world?
No, cakes and pastry were always my only passion. My parents remember me saying that I wanted to be a pastry chef at the age of 5!
You've cooked for presidents and celebrities - do you get more nervous if you're working for a famous client - and are they more demanding?
You do get a bit more nervous of course but at the end of the day all of our customers are celebrities as far as I am concerned - especially the bride and groom on their wedding day! Most high profile clients are relaxed and are so busy that they haven't actually got time to make a fuss. It's actually the 'Z listers' who are the ones that give us a hard time and do not actually expect to pay for their cake!
What is the most spectacular creation you've ever produced?
We once did a 1m diameter 3D globe cake balanced on a pile of Louis Vuitton suitcases that were also cakes. It was really over the top but it looked amazing.
What did you make for Madonna - was it virtually fat-free and macrobiotic?
Madonna and Guy had a croquembouche for their wedding at Skibo Castle. It is a very traditional French wedding cake - so needless to say that it was not fat-free or macrobiotic.
What is your dream commission?
I would love to create an amazing dessert/pastry display for the royal family. Something very grand – maybe recreating the work of an old famous master pâtissier?
Do you always order dessert when you go out for dinner?
Not often, because I don't actually have a sweet tooth! I will order dessert if the description on the menu is inspiring. I find that restaurant desserts are quite disappointing so I usually go for the cheese option.
You travel a lot - which are your favourite cities in the world to eat in?
Sydney has got a wealth of really talented young chefs with fresh ideas. I find that the Australian have a lighter touch to their cooking than in Europe. The same can be said of South Africa – there are some fantastic restaurants there too. It's funny that the Michelin Guide doesn't seem to want to recognise them.
You're a self-confessed Anglophile - what are the best things about living in the UK and what do you think of British food?
I was raised in Brittany in the countryside, but I think deep down inside I've always been a city boy. I fell in love with London just as soon as I arrived. It is so cosmopolitan and it is a great platform for travelling and business opportunities. I really like British food and I'm so glad that there has been a revival of traditional dishes and puddings. I love Gastro pubs – you'll always find me in one on a Sunday drinking good old English Ale!
Are you really going to go into space?
Yes - and the date is fast approaching! I haven't really had much time to think about it - it will certainly be an experience. I'm really excited about the thought of being one of the first space tourists and being able to say I am an astronaut!
How are you enjoying your new role as a TV personality?
I enjoy the filming process – I get to visit some great locations and meet new and interesting people in every series. It is still weird to be recognised in the street or asked to sign autographs. I love meeting my fans – as they share the same baking passion as me.
Do you have a favourite cake from your book?
My personal favourite is the lavender individual tower – it looks so fresh, like a summer morning in Provence.
What next for Eric Lanlard?
I am working on a new book and this time I will be introducing a few savoury recipes. Hopefully there will be a new TV series on Channel 4 in the autumn and I am putting together some ideas for that – so it's all go!
Eric Lanlard's Master Cakes is out now, priced £12.99
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