Janice Wong, chef, pâtissier, confectioner, artist, author and visionary has been dazzling the world with her engaging creations that bring together tempting flavours and stunning visuals in a merging of art and food. Her 2am:dessertbar has been going strong for 12 years, while her eponymous sweet concept Janice Wong also brings her creations to the world. With worldwide recognition, she is a regular on the global pop-up circuit. Exquisite Taste talked to Janice about her work and plans.
E: Starting at the beginning, what made you decide on making desserts as a career?
Janice: I studied economics as an undergrad, but it was an exchange trip to Melbourne, Australia, that turned my life around completely. I had always enjoyed food, but the quality and passion of the culinary scene in Australia was something that blew me away. I came back to Singapore, completed my degree and immediately flew to Paris on the day that I graduated to study at the Le Cordon Bleu, officially kickstarting my journey as a pâtissier.
E: How did you come to work for luminaries like Pierre Hermé, Oriol Balaguer and Grant Achatz?
J: They have all had incredible influences on me as a chef while I was at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris.
E: You are known for pushing the boundaries of your culinary art and for progressive dishes. Where do your ideas come from and what is your current focus?
J: My ideas can come from anywhere. It is my philosophy that Your World is Your Imagination. For example, some of my main inspirations come from nature and culture. If you look at some of my signature edible art works, you will see many elements from the natural world, such as flowers, honeycomb patterns, crystals, corals and the like. I’m also very inspired by the culture that I’m in, depending on where I’m showcasing these works and products.
E: You are described as a chef-artist. Have you always expressed your art through food, or have you used other media?
J: I actually started painting at the age of 25. Painting inspired me to create different dessert art as well, and I’ve observed that the dessert art concept is one that a lot of people can embrace because it’s visually pleasing to the eye. Of course, as a chef artist, I largely express my art through food. When I started as a dessert chef in 2007, it was always about food as art. But in 2011 I changed my philosophy a little and started my first edible art piece, which was a four-metre-long marshmallow ceiling and gummy walls, and huge canvases that were painted with food. That was art as food. I’ve never stopped since. It was great, and people loved it.
E: You’ve just expanded into the UK with an outlet in Harrods and have already expanded within Asia. What are your plans for the future?
J: I would love to continue making more interactive confectionaries. In 2020, I also hope that we’ll continue to push the boundaries of sweet experiences by innovating, learning and improving. In terms of the Janice Wong brand, we’re looking to build our retail presence worldwide with global expansion opportunities. We are also currently working on confectionaries in a strong partnership with Universal Brand Development.
E: Do you have any advice for young people today thinking about what career to pursue?
J: I would say, dare to dream and really dream! Even with the projects that I get now, I would never underestimate and think that I cannot do something big, because when I first started out I never thought I would come this far. Keep dreaming, work hard and never stop learning.
Sweet Salty Popcorn
recipe for 50 servings
- 160g malt
- 450ml milk
- 120ml cream
- 40g glucose
- Heat all ingredients until well incorporated.
- Strain mixture.
- recipe for 40 servings
- Popcorn Liquid
- 1.5 litre cream
- 500ml milk
- 3pkts microwavable popcorn
- 250g egg yolk
- 500g sugar
- 120ml water
- 30g gelatine sheet
- 1 litre popcorn liquid
- 600g whipped cream caramel
- For Sweet – Add 100g caramel to every 500ml liquid
- For Salty – Add 7g maldon salt to every 500ml liquid
- Infuse cream, milk and popcorn overnight in a vacuum pack.
- Whisk egg yolk until ribbon stage.
- Heat sugar and water until 119C.
- Add slowly to the yolk while whisking.
- Bloom gelatine. Add to heated popcorn liquid.
- Fold popcorn liquid into the above mixture.
- Fold whipped cream.
- Pipe into mould. Freeze.
- Place 2 strips of yuzu parfait on the plate. Place 2 domes of sweet popcorn and 1½ domes of salted popcorn. Garnish with popcorn powder, malt liquid, cherry sauce, dill flowers and a quenelle of passion fruit sorbet.
Exquisite Taste March – May 2020