S UG AR RU SH
Chef Janice Wong has mid-length hair hastily tied into a ponytail; plumped, naturally rosy cheeks that still retained a bit of baby fat; petite, she is soft-spoken and polite yet stern. But, no mistake, she is the Janice Wong – the mastermind behind 2am:dessertbar and its team of 40 chefs in Singapore (most of them burly men) and one of the few pioneers in the region to marry food with art in colossal installations such as a Ferrari sculpture, a four-metre chocolate wall for Fendi, a replica of the New York skyline in chocolate for Tiffany & Co., a collection of 29 art pieces across 27 metres for the Singapore Affordable Art Fair; and for her own cookbook launch in 2011, an edifice of isomalt coral, lychee gelée wall hangings, an intricate bread chandelier as well as a ceiling of nori-marshmallow stalactites.
With a profound portfolio and equally extraordinary clients under her belt, Wong takes a major leap out of her comfort zone in Holland Village and into a full-service restaurant in Hong Kong (opened mid-march) and an eponymous dessertbar in Tokyo (set for April); but for the young chef, it still drills down to the basics of toying with the right ingredients.
“Desserts have ages: I want people to come back and eat it; so the long-term gain always comes from ingredients and flavour because that’s what the memory remembers the most, then comes texture, temperature and, last, the aesthetics,” she said. “It really is a blank canvas every day.”
A graduate from the kitchens of Thomas Keller, Grant Archatz, chocolatier Oriol Balaguer and French pastry chef Pierre
师承自美国名厨Thomas Keller及Grant Archatz、西班牙巧克力达人Oriol Balaguer、以及法国糕点名师Pierre Hermé，黄慧娴突破饮食传统，于九年前开设她的甜点吧2am:dessertbar。一如其名， 2am:dessertbar是一家让客人可以从傍晚到凌晨两点坐下来享受甜点和饮料的餐厅。这一革命性的概念，让她几乎是一夜成名。她在2013年和2014年分别获San Pellegrino Asia Top 50颁发“亚洲最佳糕点师傅”荣誉，目前每个月平均制作八个定制艺术甜点，还有无数私人晚宴的邀请，而她最新的海外项目，是她突破的唯一出路。
Hermé, Wong took a leap out of the box with 2am:dessertbar nine years ago amidst a very traditional culinary scene. This revolutionary concept of a sit-down restaurant serving desserts and drinks and opens only from late afternoon to – as the name dictates – 2 a.m. skyrocketed her almost immediately to fame. So after she was named Asia’s Best Pastry Chef by the San Pellegrino Asia Top 50 in 2013 and 2014 and now averaging eight bespoke art creations each month alongside private dinner requests on the side, her latest projects overseas are, she said, her only way up.
“It’s about elevating the whole standard: you can only go up, and doing something cross culture can bring in loads of new ideas,” she said. True, considering BBQ pork praline poprocks is on her list of latest inventions.
Extending her philosophy of making food that can be tasted, experienced and appreciated, her first full-service restaurant in Hong Kong, Cobo House by 2am:dessertbar, features its own mineral-rich Okinawa sea sand rooftop garden, from which the menu’s organic herbs and edible plants are grown, as well as a designated dessertbar table to bring the sweets to life right in front of the customer. Of course, aside from her classics like Tsujirihei Green Tea Tart (a soft, emerald-coloured pastry enveloped in a crumbled shell) and the Cassis Plum (a robin egg — shaped delicacy filled with elderflower yoghurt foam, Choya Granita and yuzu pearls), she’ll also be fusing the savoury and sweet together with inventions like the aforementioned porkinspired candies as well as Tapioca Crackers (which are crispy sheets of porous grey flakes whimsically clipped on a mini-cloths rack above a saucer of anchovies foam).
The Janice Wong outlet in Shinjuku, Tokyo, on the other hand, will offer a close-up experience of dessert making and plating at the dessert bar, which will serve eight to 10 plated offerings themed around being “fun and theatrical”, such as the Chiyuki apple tart and other seasonal fruit – inspired desserts.
“The idea is to create and not recreate: it’s an idea that takes a lot of leadership with an equal amount of risk; and it’s also about sharing everything with the team and not holding anything back so they can learn and be inspired,” said Wong, who calls herself a half-artist-half-chef. “If I become a pastry chef who repeats cakes and macaroons, I’ll just be like anyone else. What’s the difference? But I am also not 100% an artist because not only is pastry the medium, but it’s also that one thing that keeps me grounded rather than getting lost in my own world.”
家全方位服务餐厅Cobo House by 2am:dessertbar设有屋顶花园，以矿物质丰富的冲绳海砂种植有机香草和食用植物，用到餐厅的菜式之中。餐厅还有特别设计的甜品吧台，客人可以坐在桌前近距离欣赏甜点师即席制作甜品。当然，除了她的招牌甜点Tsujirihei Green Tea Tart（一款流心抹茶暖挞）和Cassis Plum（外形像知更鸟蛋，里面注入满满的接骨木花酸奶泡沫、Choya梅酒冰沙和柚子珍珠）外，她还精心研制出一系列融合咸甜味道的新作品，比如之前提到的叉烧跳跳糖、以及Tapioca Crackers（配上鯷鱼泡沫的西米脆饼）。
Top: Yuzu-inspired dessert