SINGAPORE – Janice Wong grew up left brained, with a mind for math and economics. Then, like a work of classic narrative fiction, 11 years ago, a bump on the head in a car accident awakened the right side of her brain, triggering a quest to find new outlets for her newfound visions and creativity.
Already a fan of sweets and pastries, her new direction entailed using sugar, candy, chocolate and food as media for art canvases, sculptures and installations that have brought her international renown.
The Singapore-based chef counts fashion brands such as Fendi, Tiffany and Kate Spade among her clients, and her art has won her invitations around the globe to set up exhbitions, more than 45 this year alone.
She’s won the World Gourmet Summit Awards title of Pastry Chef of the Year in 2011, 2013 and 2015, and the title of Asia’s Best Pastry Chef award from Restaurant magazine in 2013 and 2014. She’s also the author of “Perfection in Imperfection.”
At 2am:dessertbar, Janice Wong’s Cassis Plum, a cassis bombe with elderflower yogurt foam, Choya (ume plum wine) granite, yuzu pears and yuzu rubies.
Wong with a work of sugar flowers she created for Fendi. The peg board held lollipops for guests to enjoy.
A “living” chocolate table at 2am:dessertbar. The chocolate is under glass and the changing tremperature over the course of the day causes it to expand and contract, changing the pattern over time.
On the retail front, a few of Wong’s hand-painted bon bons in salt caramel (top), and whiskey and orange flavors.
At the Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, you can mix and match those bon bons to bring home in her beautiful colored boxes.
You can also exercise your creativity by bringing home some of her chocolate paints.
Another of Wong’s works wrapped to travel for an exhibition in Dubai where she was heading the day after our interview.
Wong is the rare cerebral chef and I can’t even begin to make sense of her notes in coming up with her dessert creations. Where others take a random, scattershot approach that shows in the nonsensical taste of a final product, her combinations manage to be both multi-dimensional and precise, without a note out of place, and a total joy on the palate. Produce enzymes are her latest passion, as a morning tonic and for the chemical reactions they bring about in the cooking process.
Andy Warhol in Wong’s studio.
Wong created her own stoneware and ceramic ware for presentation of desserts at 2am:dessertbar.
I love green tea so loved her dessert of a Kyoto Tsujirihei matcha tart with jasmine rice sherbet and yuzu drops, $20 or about $15USD.
But my favorite of her desserts was Hoijicha Sesame, a tofu parfait with Hojicha green tea custard, pear vodka sorbet, sesame sauce and that black spot of ginger.
At home in Singapore, her truffles and edible paints can be found at The Shoppes in Marina Bay Sands to bring home as omiyage, while her dessert confections can be enjoyed at her 2am:dessertbar at 21a Lorong Liput in Holland Village. The dessert bar is open from 3 p.m. Tuesdays to Fridays, closing at 2 a.m., and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays. ———
Nadine Kam is Style Editor and staff restaurant critic at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser; her coverage is in print on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Contact her via email at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Rebel Mouse.