Top pastry chef, Damien Wager is the owner of the Edible Art Patisserie Macaron Boutique which launches at Harvey Nichols Birmingham next month. His eye-catching creations combine classic French techniques with modern American methods
Image credit: Copyright Faydit Photography
Tell us about your cooking
The style of patisserie I create is based on the modern, American way as opposed to a more classic French style. I love creating desserts which make people question whether or not they are real-life, or in fact ‘edible art’, but that also taste incredible.
How did you become a chef?
I started off as a kitchen porter while studying at college and worked my way up through the ranks to become head chef of an award-winning hotel in Cornwall at age 23. After working in some demanding kitchens, I fell out of love with the ‘hot side’ and wanted to explore the pastry section. I taught myself everything I know about pastry, mainly from watching videos, reading books and practice.
What do you eat at home?
I like simple, traditional meals – shepherd’s pie is a favourite – but I also enjoy Mexican dishes and can’t say no to a takeaway.
Who’s the best chef in the world and why? And who’s the best in Brum?
Cédric Grolet would take the award for ‘best chef’ if you were basing it on public popularity, but in reality I believe the best pastry chef in the world is probably working away in a kitchen somewhere, serving sensational desserts to lucky customers, just without the social media following.
How is your restaurant adapting to the current climate?
Things are difficult for everyone, we aren’t oblivious to that, we just keep trying to create delicious treats that the public can’t say no to!
Share a cooking tip
Be meticulous. With pastry you can’t take shortcuts or ‘wing it’, you have to be thorough and precise. Follow a recipe to the T, and the likelihood is it will work.
What was your favourite food as a kid?
Turkey Twizzlers were always popular in my house, until a certain celebrity chef banished them!
Food heaven and food hell?
Heaven is a huge bowl of fizzy sweets. Hell would be a box of macarons from anywhere other than the Edible Art Patisserie Macaron Boutique!
What’s the most unusual thing you’ve eaten?
I have tried all sorts of weird and wonderful things, but shark has to be the most unusual for sure.
If you weren’t a chef, what would you be?
I studied at university to become a PE teacher, so if the kitchen hadn’t won me over I would have probably stuck with that.
Give us a nice, easy recipe our readers can make at home using some of those lingering items in the store cupboard
Believe it or not, a simple recipe to make at home could be a basic French meringue-based macaron.
Just make a French meringue with five egg whites and 150g of caster sugar until stiff peaks form.
Next, sieve together 150g of ground almonds and 150g of icing sugar. Fold the meringue into the almonds/icing mixture in stages until a ribbon texture forms, before piping your round shells onto a lined baking tray.
Leave to rest for 20 to 30 minutes and then bake at 135 degrees Celsius for 17 or 18 minutes before removing and allowing to cool. Pair your shells and fill with your favourite ganache or buttercream filling.