Your World is Your Imagination: Exclusive Interview with Singapore’s very own creative Chef Janice Wong

(photo courtesy of Janice Wong)

As a visionary, artist, author, culinary stylist and photographer, Chef Janice Wong’s philosophy is a continuous inspiration for her world of edible art. In September 2011, she fashioned seven amazing edible art installations that completely transformed the studio space: with edible items as her only tools, Janice conceptualized and designed edible installations such as marshmallow ceilings and gumdrop covered walls. She has since been commissioned by galleries, restaurants and clients both locally and overseas to craft interactive art. Playing with a multitude of colours, textures, flavours and even perceptions, her strikingly unconventional artworks are constantly evolving as people interact with them. Her ideas are threaded by a commonality: a pursuit for perfection in imperfection, and an appreciation of imperfection in perfection, presenting an artistic, gastronomic world of flawless imperfection and flawed perfection. Such is the beauty of art and Janice Wong’s creations.

1) Share with us the activities you took part in while studying economics in NUS.

When I was doing economics, I did a lot of sports. I played squash, tennis, badminton, javelin and touch rugby.

I was very much involved in hall games, and I stayed in Eusoff hall for a year. I enjoyed the teamwork spirit in sports, and it was my parents who exposed me to squash and other sports when I was nine years old. I enjoyed playing sports very much, especially squash and tennis.

2) What was the greatest takeaway from NUS?

It was the well-balanced lifestyle, of juggling between a lot of studying, a lot of playing, and healthy living. My hall life was very holistic, and the time saved on travelling could be used to meet new friends and try new things.

3) Growing up, did you have a role model you looked up to?

My dad. He has always been strict and stern. But also, he mentored me in terms of business decisions.

As well as Coco Chanel, I really admired how she built her own brand.

4) What are your interests and hobbies?

I played a lot of squash and I was learning French as a third language, before I went to France. So those are my interest and hobbies.

5) What was the inspiration behind your brand’s logo?

It is my signature, which I created, and it is meant to be organic. It is the symbolism behind how I try to create and inspire.

6) What was the inspiration behind 2am? Why do you love experimenting with food so much? What drives your passion for culinary art?

The change of passion came when I realised I was very intrigued with food and the experience of fine-dining.

I have a big passion for sweets and art. And for me it was very natural to pick progressive desserts and plated desserts. There was no concept like this in Singapore at that moment. In 2007, I embarked on a journey to marry fine plated desserts together with fine wines and cocktails.

7) Share with us one high moment and a low moment while you were studying in France. Why did you choose to go to France?

High moment: It was the exposure of the French culture, it was such an eye-opener to just embrace the patisseries haute in France. Especially during the times when I am having a croissant in the morning with my coffee. And I appreciated the very high quality of ingredients used.

I chose to go to France because of the culture of sweets, and it was very traditional, and that was where it began with the croissants and the apple tarts, and some of the best chefs are there.

8) Where do you see yourself five to ten years down the road? What upcoming works can we expect from you?

For me, I want to continue to build the brand. The branding of Janice Wong is of utmost importance to me.

I will be doing a lot more art installations as well. There are currently two ongoingart exhibitions. Check them out here:

I would also want to continue to build the brand in Japan as well.

In essence, I will continue to marry food and art together. For expansion plans, I will want to keep on building the brand.

Our latest retail shop at Raffles City focuses on confectionaries as well as signature chocolates. It is also a showcase of our artistry with the chocolate paints and the new chocolate crayons. Recently, we launched the chocolate crayons there.

9) What advice do you have for young undergraduates who are still looking for their calling in life?

I’ve always encouraged young entrepreneurs to never give up and keep their focus. So for me, I’ve always kept my focus on building the brand, I set myself one goal and never really got distracted, just keep going.

More about Chef Janice Wong

Chef Janice Wong’s never-ending passion for culinary art has propelled her forward to test the limits of dessert making. The native Singaporean has learned from some of the world’s best chefs, including US luminaries Thomas Keller and Grant Achatz, virtuoso Spanish chocolatier Oriol Balaguer, and prodigious French pastry chef Pierre Hermé. An undisputed favourite among sweet-toothed Singaporeans, her dessert restaurant 2am:dessertbar has redefined the dessert experience, pushing the boundaries between sweet and savoury, with carefully researched progressive dishes. Recently in November 2014 she also launched her eponymous sweet concept, JANICE WONG. Chef Janice has received worldwide recognition for her cutting-edge creations and is a regular on the global pop-up circuit—proof that 2am:dessertbar is more than just a sugar rush. She has recently been named Asia’s Best Pastry Chef; for the second year running by the prestigious San Pellegrino Asia’s 50 Best for 2013 & 2014.

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