Nielsen Massey “Tart It Up!” Event : Big Success!

I had the opportunity to attend  the “Tart It Up!” event which was hosted by Nielsen Massey Vanilla company in Waukegan, Il yesterday.  The famous UK pastry chef, Eric Lanlard demonstrated  two recipes from his latest book, Tart It Up!.

Tart It Up!  by Chef Eric Lanlard


I think I was as excited about meeting Craig Nielsen, Beth Nielsen and Matt Nielsen as I was about Chef Eric’s baking demonstration.  The Nielsen Massey story is quite remarkable and this third generation Nielsen team has continued the Vanilla legacy.


Craig Nielsen, Beth Nielsen, Matt Nielsen

As soon as I stepped into the front door of the Nielsen Massey plant, I was greeted by Craig Nielsen and given a warm welcome.  The Nielsens were such gracious hosts —I felt like I was attending a party in their home instead of a presentation at their plant.  Beth Nielsen also promptly welcomed me and later gave us all a tour of their new state-of-the art commercial kitchen.  As I listened to Beth talk about the kitchen – how every detail was carefully selected by her – I came to realize that this is more than vanilla to the Nielsens.  This is a family history over three decades strong.  Matt Nielsen hosted a tour of the plant at the end of the day.  The plant tour can be found under my post, ” Everything’s Coming Up ….Vanilla Beans at Nielsen Massey”.

Now back to Chef Eric….

Vickie Meets Chef Eric Lanlard


Chef Eric’s baking demonstration covered the basics of making a crust as well as a sweet pie ( Pecan)


And a savory tart,  Salmon with Mustard and Dill Tart


I learned a new technique for pastry making… what Chef Eric referred to as “rubbing the flour”.  He used his hands to mix the butter and flour together – instead of a pastry cutter as we have all learned to use in pie crust making.  He said that a good pastry chef has to learn how the dough “feels” and that can only be done with your hands.  He said that pastry making is not cooking — it’s chemistry.  And, because it is chemistry, a pastry recipe should be followed closely and not altered.  I loved his stories about being a pastry chef.  He said, “We bring smiles to people’s faces!  Pastry chefs create cakes for weddings…birthdays….special occasions…and people always smile when they see the cake!”.  

Chef Eric said that the home “pastry chef” can create every recipe in his book.  And, if your pastry turns out less than perfect — just tell everyone it has the new “rustic look”!  I think the whole point is to try new things and learn to be comfortable doing it.  The kitchen is a place to enjoy with your family and friends.

We all got to sample the Pecan Pie and Salmon Tart before the much anticipated tour of the Nielsen Massey plant.

 The Tart It Up! tastings were wonderful and so was the event!  

Many thanks to Nielsen Massey Vanilla for hosting “Tart It Up!” 





Vickie Meets Chef Eric Lanlard

Chef Eric Lanlard, famous UK bakery chef who is also known as “ Cake Boy“, has been on a whirlwind  U.S. book tour promoting his latest book, Tart It Up!.  I must admit, even the name of the cookbook intrigued me.  But,  when the chance to meet Chef Eric was coupled with the opportunity to tour the Nielsen Massey Vanilla plant in Waukegan, Il AND meet Beth, Matt and Craig Nielsen–this girl was in the car, headed to Waukegan!

Vickie with Chef Eric Lanlard

Chef Eric’s new book, Tart It Up!, is full of over 75 savory and sweet pie and tart recipes.  Chef Eric says, ”  In this book you will find not only great recipes and tips for making the best pastry but also the inspiration for delicious tarts and pies that I’ve collected over the years…..I hope you will like them as much as my friends do.”

 The Nielsen-Massey event was attended by media and food bloggers along with a bus load load of French pastry students from the Culinary Institute.  It was so exciting to watch Chef Eric create his baking masterpieces and listen as he shared his passion for pastry with us.    

The Tart It Up!  Event and the tour of the Nielsen Massey plant can be found under my other posts.

“Nielsen Massey Event:  Tart It Up! :  Big Success”

“Everything’s Coming up Vanilla Beans….At Nielsen Massey!”

Tart It Up!   by Eric Lanlard. ( Octopus Books:  July 2012)  $ 19.99 



Make Life Special
2 Cypress Rd Litchfield, IL 62056 US
Phone: 217-556-8297 Website: