Le Royal Meridien recently launched their new afternoon tea experience at the spectacular Stratos Rooftop-revolving venue. In partnership with celebrity pastry chef Eric Lanlard, Fact went along for some tea,cake and a chat with Eric…
Hi Eric! Is this your first trip to the Gulf?
No, I’ve been to Abu Dhabi before, I came last year to Taste of Abu Dhabi, and I’ve visited for pleasure, and I attended Taste of Abu Dhabi this year too. It was nice, I really enjoyed it. You can see that people are passionate about food here. I did the main theatre, and I did the cooking classes as well, and people really love it, to get their hands dirty.
Do you just specialise in pastries, or other genres too?
I’ve always been in pastries. I’m from France, where the training is very specific, so if you decide to go into catering, you have to make a choice, either you’re a chef, or a Boulanger (baker), or you’re a pastry chef, and I made the choice when I was five years old, that I was going to be a pastry chef, and I stuck to it. I went into an apprenticeship when I was 18. Even if you ask me today, what else I would do if I wasn’t a pastry chef, I wouldn’t have an answer for you, because it never crossed my mind, to do anything else.
But pastry doesn’t necessarily mean just sweet things, does it?
No, I create savoury dishes as well, and I’m lucky to work alongside some great chefs, and from my own imagination as well, to come up with new creations. I love pies, I love savoury tarts. I just finished writing a new book at the moment, called Eric’s Afternoon Teas, because I seem to be doing those everywhere right now! There’s a chapter on savoury macaroons. Other things I’ve made are savoury eclairs, because choux pastry is very versatile, it can be used for savoury and sweet, so you can make it happen together.
What’s your approach to creating recipes?
I’m always looking for new ingredients, and new sensations. I like my food to be exciting, to the last bite. I love surprises, I love explosions, I love liquid centres, I love a crunchy base. I like a lot of textures, and being interactive, so people can really have an experience, so that is what you’ll get with the afternoon tea, there are a lot of exciting things. We’ve got edible perfumes, which I don’t think anybody will have seen before, where it’s sprayed in the air around the table to wake up your senses before you eat the food.
Finally, describe the ideal Afternoon Tea…
For me, Afternoon Tea is the new lunch. In the UK and Asia everybody is looking for the ‘next big’ afternoon tea, though for me it still needs to look like an afternoon tea. So, you need the three components: you need the savoury, the sweets, and the scones, because without that it’s not a traditional afternoon tea. I don’t want it to be too gimmicky, I want it to taste nice, and I want people to go away thinking “wow, that was a sensation,” and definitely an Instagram feast! And at the same time, you feel full, and satisfied. It also needs to be elegant, sophisticated, in a good space, and Stratos is perfect for this, with the beautiful venue and the great view.
GO: Eric Lanlard’s Afternoon Tea is served at Stratos at Le Royal Meridien from 3pm to 6pm. Call 800 101 101 for reservations and more information.