I was very impressed by patissier and TV presenter Eric Lanlard on the P and O cruise. He went out of his way to spend time with passengers and guests of his masterclasses and dinners. He was funny, charming, humble and knowledgeable.
This was part of the culinary cruise series run by P and O. There are others with Marco Pierre White (I’ve heard he is equally as approachable), Atul Kochar, and wine expert Olly Smith. I’d highly recommend booking one of the masterclasses or the hosted dinner if you want to spend quality time with a famous chef. (Of course there are no women famous chefs).
We tried Eric’s afternoon tea in The Epicurean restaurant. This costs £75, similar to a London hotel, except you are next to a window overlooking a massive rolling ocean.
The masterclass took place in probably the most beautiful cookery school in the world, on the top deck of the ship, surrounded by the Atlantic.
This is a job that Eric was born for – hailing from Brittany, he spent 18 months in the French navy, making patisserie for the captain, travelling around the world. He has a great affinity with the sea:
When I dream at night, I’m always back on that ship.
On Britannia, crew expressed surprise that he is so interested in the workings of the ship. On request, he has been given tours of the engine room. Eric told me that once he was invited to a special dinner in port, given by the Indian chefs, a kind of secret supper club, only available to a select few. I would love to be there!
Cooking on board, there is no open flame anywhere. There is a bakery where all the bread and cakes are made. The ovens are super fast, baking things in minutes. We used the same ovens in the cookery school. There can be disadvantages -see the cupcakes in the picture below? They got rapid baked at a steep wave-like angle because of the swaying of the boat.
In the Masterclass, Eric showed us how to make lemon curd cupcakes with an Italian meringue topping, white chocolate cake pops and finally a salted caramel and apple souffle.
That evening, at a very good dinner, supper club style in the cookery school, Eric entertained us with gossip, stories and anecdotes. He is naturally amusing and charming, I can see why he was chosen to be on TV. At midnight, we were still chatting away!
He did mention one bit of juicy gossip: he was in the running to be the baking judge for the Great British Bake Off, but in the end they decided to go with Paul Hollywood because he was British!
I was invited as a guest of P and O cruises to Madeira and the Canary Islands.