Merchant Hotel's Sarah Jade Jameson on how baking birthday cakes as a child inspired her career as a pastry chef

Chefs share recpies and a soupçon about themselves. This week: Sarah Jade Jameson

Merchant Hotel head pastry chef Sarah Jade Jameson. Picture by Mal McCann

:: WHERE do you work?

Merchant Hotel, head pastry chef

:: Are you calm in the kitchen?

I don't going around screaming all day that's for sure! It doesn't create a good working environment and certainly never solves a problem but I will be firm when I need to.

:: When did you start cooking?

I've always loved cooking and baking, more so baking when I was younger. I stared making birthday cakes when I was 10, I used to make my dad cakes all the time. From then I started to experiment more and when I was 17 I did my NVQ level 2 in food cooking and prep. It was then I decided I wanted to specialise in pastry making.

:: What fires you up about food?

I am a very creative person, so I love coming up with new and exciting flavour profiles and different ways to present them on our Afternoon Tea stands.

:: Your signature dish is…

I couldn't choose just one, I love all my desserts. My favourite part is experimenting with textures and flavours and putting together the afternoon tea menus.

:: Your favourite thing to eat is…

Milk Tart, a traditional South African dessert. I grew up there so it reminds me of my childhood.

:: What chef inspires you most?

Pastry Chef Amaury Guichon. He is so talented, each and every one of his creations are like little works of art. He's based in Las Vegas and it's my dream to do one of his masterclasses!

:: This week, we are going to make…

I love using Valrhona chocolate in my recipes, the uniqueness of their products makes our dessert offerings stand out from the rest.

:: Valrhona Passion Fruit Ganache


450g passion fruit chocolate

330g double cream


Pour the cream into a saucepan and bring to the boil.

In a separate saucepan, melt the passion fruit chocolate slowly.

Pour the double cream into the melted chocolate and bring together using a whisk.

Allow to cool overnight in the fridge and the next day you have the perfect, glossy ganache to use as you with on your dessert of choice.

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