Eric Lanlard talks Afternoon Tea


With a new menu for his on-board Afternoon Tea currently in development, P&O Cruises Food Hero and master pâtissier Eric Lanlard tells us about the inspiration behind his mouthwatering creations

Eric Lanlard

P&O Cruises Food Hero and master pâtissier Eric Lanlard

Eric Lanlard’s Afternoon Tea is an on-board experience not to be missed. His unique twist on this classic British institution elevates the humble afternoon tea into something utterly decadent.


In the coming months, we’ll be launching new Afternoon Tea menus – available at The Epicurean on Azura, Britannia and Ventura and at Ocean Grill on Arcadia – featuring delectable dishes inspired by some of Eric’s global travels. Eric and our development pastry and bakery chef, Kalman Zsolt Bauer, have been busy in the P&O Cruises development kitchen, working to refine the delicious new dishes. Here, Eric tells us about the inspiration behind the new menu and the destinations he can’t wait to visit in 2018.


Can you tell us a bit about the process of developing a menu? What have you accomplished so far?

Developing a menu is always exciting, as you start with a blank canvas. My signature Afternoon Tea has been running on board for a few years now, so we have a good idea of what our guests like and are looking for: they want to be surprised, they want glamour and fun, and they want something different. We also know what’s possible to make on board and at sea – as you can imagine, it doesn’t come without its challenges! Luckily, I work alongside a fantastic team at P&O Cruises. For me, it’s always a big learning curve when working alongside them in their state-of-the-art development kitchen in Southampton.


So far, the Afternoon Tea menus have been made in our kitchen at Cake-Boy with a full recipe book, and I’ve spent two intensive days with the development team working to make it feasible on board. The team are now putting on the final touches, making sure all specialised ingredients can be found and ordered… extra-virgin olive oil pearls aren’t exactly common on a cruise ship shopping list!


Do you enjoy creating new menus? What’s your favourite part of the process and what are the biggest challenges?

I create a new menu in the same way I write recipes for my books. I start with a story – it could be memories of a destination, a recipe from friends or family, a smell or an occasion (a happy one, of course). Like a painter starting a new piece, I do have these blank moments when nothing clicks and I’ll be staring at my computer forever! But when the moment is right, the inspiration juices keep flowing.


The biggest challenge is to produce an extremely precise, fool-proof recipe book for the team of chefs on board. The food we create is completely different to anything else they produce, from the special ingredients to technique and finishing. I have to say, the chefs really make me proud and I know they truly enjoy learning and the attention to detail involved.


The new recipes are influenced by your travels. What is it about travelling that inspires you?

Travelling has always been a passion of mine (after baking) and it’s a great source of inspiration, too. When I visit a new destination, I can’t help but to check out the local markets, shops and – of course – bakeries or pâtisseries to see local specialities, trends or anything new and exciting. It could be as simple as a decoration, texture, flavour combination or even packaging. I’ll take note if I love it and make sure I incorporate it into my repertoire, but I never copy and paste. That would be cheating!


Do any of the new Afternoon Tea recipes evoke personal memories for you?

It would have to be my West Indies Chocolate Tart. As a young French man, I was lucky to do my National Service with the Marine Nationale on the legendary helicopter carrier La Jeanne d’Arc. For 18 months we travelled the world, and it was a hugely influential time for me. One of the first stops after crossing the Atlantic was Grenada, also known as the ‘spice island’. I remember it like it was yesterday… when I walked down the gangway, I was hit with the amazing scents of all the spices coming from the little stalls along the port: cinnamon, nutmeg, chilli, vanilla. It was also my first time seeing a fresh cocoa pod. I was completely taken by how gorgeous it all looked and smelled, and I’m so excited all these years later to honour this beautiful island with this tart recipe, which includes a delicate hand-moulded star aniseed.


Which of the new menu items are you most excited about and why?

Everything is designed to wow our guests, from the intricate decorations to the little interactive bits, like the injection of dark rum into the Mont Blanc verrine. But I have to say, the super-cute Red Velvet Cake Pop, with its rainbow-like chocolate coating and little magical chocolate butterfly on the top, is really cool. When I posted the short video of the dipping technique on my Instagram page, it generated over 200,000 views.


Which destinations are you most looking forward to visiting this year with P&O Cruises?

This season I’m doing a couple of cruises to Norway and I’m really looking forward to being back there. Scandinavian baking is huge right now, so as well as enjoying the breathtaking scenery, I look forward sneaking on shore for a proper rye bread with cured salmon and a freshly baked cinnamon roll. 


Why do you think the Afternoon Tea experience is so popular with P&O Cruises guests?

I think our guests love the sense of occasion. It’s a great way to celebrate a birthday or anniversary, or like a lot of people do, the end of a lovely cruise before heading home. There is something very glamorous about Afternoon Tea and it’s such a British ritual. I love it when The Epicurean is all set up and our hosts greet the guests, most of whom have dressed up for the occasion. It takes at least 15 minutes before the guests start eating – they’re too busy photographing the food, as it’s completely different from any tea they will have seen before, even in the grandest hotels.


Eric’s new Afternoon Tea menus will be available on board from April. 

Enjoy Eric Lanlard’s Afternoon tea at Ocean Grill on Arcadia, and at The Epicurean on Azura, Britannia and Ventura, for a small cover charge.

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