Profile: Janice Wong

Published on 8 December 2015

Best known for her innovative desserts, chef Janice Wong is fast establishing herself as an artist in her own right.

BY pamela ho

It’s like stepping into the pages of Hansel and Gretel and finding yourself in a place where you can peel marshmallows off ceilings, pluck cendol-flavoured chocolate pops and sugared orchids off walls — to eat.

Welcome to the world of Janice Wong, named Asia’s Best Pastry Chef (2013 & 2014) by San Pellegrino Asia, and Pastry Chef of the Year (2011, 2013 & 2015) by the World Gourmet Summit. No stranger to the culinary cosmos, this feisty 32 year-old has also published two books, Perfection in Imperfection and Dim Sum.

Wong is the genius behind the cutting-edge 2am:dessertbar at Holland Village; 2am:lab, a non-profit research/workshop space; and JANICE WONG, a sweets boutique at ION Orchard and Marina Bay Sands. Come 2016, she will open outlets in Hong Kong and Tokyo.

Besides being commissioned by the Singapore Tourism Board to bring her unique brand of edible art installations to Beijing, London and New York with creative showcase Singapore: Inside Out, Wong has also been commissioned by luxury brands like Prada, Chanel and Kate Spade for private events. Her commissions have taken her around the world, and her works are gracing art fairs and festivals.

Last month, she displayed and sold her edible art pieces at the Affordable Art Fair Singapore and is currently working on Art Basel 2016 in Hong Kong. But is there a difference between being an ‘artistic dessert chef’ and ‘an artist who works with food as a medium’?

“When I design desserts, I think flavour first before anything else — before design, before textures. Whereas for art, I think first of how it will look,” reveals Wong, who holds an Economics degree from the National University of Singapore, but pursued her passions to Paris where she trained as a pastry chef at the prestigious culinary school, Le Cordon Bleu.

As an artist, Wong works largely with chocolate, marshmallow, gummies and noodles. Her medium comes with challenges. “We did a huge Christmas tree once. It was 125kg and held up by four metal chains. But I didn’t calculate the dimensions accurately, and at 3pm, the whole thing collapsed!” Wong recounts. “It had taken us 48 hours to put together, with a team of eight. I had just a team of four on site. We started from scratch; and by 6pm, it was done.”

Wong’s worlds are converging. She now takes in interns not just from culinary schools but art institutions like Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts. The Design Thinking & Innovation Academy of DesignSingapore Council has also invited her to plan a food art curriculum.

From purée chocolate paintings to Isomalt sugar coral walls, lychee gumdrop walls to ceilings of bergamot and seaweed-flavoured marshmallows, Wong’s artistic creations are taking flight with her imagination and putting Singapore on art and culinary maps far beyond our shores. How delicious is that?

Find out more about Janice Wong’s works at www.janicewong.com.sg.

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