Breakfast at CUT at 45 Park Lane has always been a favourite, especially their French toasts. I was ecstatic when I heard that 45 Park Lane is launching an American version of Afternoon Tea. Personally sandwiches do not excite me, it is usually the desserts that I look out for during afternoon tea. 45 Park Lane’s latest launch, an American inspired afternoon tea has merged two of my favourite things together, burgers (sliders in this case) and delicious American cakes plus iced tea and milkshakes – can’t beat that. I got a chance to meet Niamh, their Executive Pastry Chef who told me all about her experience so far and what inspired this tea.
How did you get in to this industry?
My best friend always made cakes back home in Ireland. She was a huge inspiration and a sister figure to me. Watching her make cakes inspired me to want to do that one day.
What was your first job?
It was at the Dunraven Arms in Ireland – a boutique hotel. I started when I was 16 as a waitress and covered weekend pastry duty which in hindsight today is a big responsibility!
When did you start at the Dorchester Collection?
I started as Second Commis at The Dorchester. I worked for a year at Coworth Park and then worked for the opening of 45 Park Lane and have been here since. It has been an amazing experience so far. We have 8 people in the pastry team and Wolfgang Puck has given me free reign when it comes to being creative and sharing ideas.
What inspired you to start an American inspired afternoon tea?
Our idea is to bring nostalgia back in to the cakes and do something different. You can get traditional sandwiches at most afternoon teas across London. The American cakes you get in superstores in the US with the long shelf life is what people remember when they think of American desserts. We wanted to come up with something amazing to bring back those memories such as the strawberry milkshake and peanut butter and jam flavours in the cakes.
How has social media transformed the way food is perceived?
Everything is so photogenic these days and people are obsessed with how food looks as opposed to taste and the experience. You’ll see a million hits on an image of tons of pancakes stacked up on eachother – there is no way that Instagram influencer ate those!
I love apple tarts, blackberry crumble with custard and whenever I go to someone’s place I make a pavlova. I try to keep it simple when I am not at work.
What is your advice to newcomers?
Keep your head down and focus on the work – the money will follow. I never obsessed over money, I somehow managed in the early days. It is very important that budding chefs focus on quality.
Your favourite place to dine?
I love the Hand and Flowers Pub in Marlow. I am a huge fan of Tom Kerridge and I love that it is a pub with 2 Michelin stars. My husband and I have been going there at least twice a year for the past 8 years. The relaxed atmosphere and the delicious non-pretentious food brings us back time and time again.
For more on the 45 Park Lane Afternoon Tea Click Here