Janice Wong's culinary journey began when she pursued a degree in economics and finance, but her passion for food led her to change course. She studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, where she honed her pastry skills and developed a deep appreciation for the art of confectionery. Her determination and creativity propelled her to excel in the culinary world.
Wong is celebrated for her avant-garde creations that seamlessly blend art and gastronomy. Her signature style involves intricate and visually stunning desserts that push the boundaries of traditional pastry-making. She is renowned for her use of vibrant colours, unique textures, and unexpected flavour combinations.
Wong's talent has garnered her numerous accolades, including being named Asia's Best Pastry Chef by the prestigious Asia's 50 Best Restaurants awards. Her work has also been showcased at renowned international culinary events and exhibitions.
In addition to her culinary endeavours, Janice Wong is an author, sharing her expertise in pastry arts through cookbooks and workshops. She has inspired a new generation of chefs and dessert enthusiasts with her dedication to pushing the boundaries of what's possible in the world of desserts. Janice Wong continues to leave an indelible mark on the culinary world with her creativity, passion, and commitment to culinary innovation.
Having made a significant mark in the world of gastronomy, Janice Wong's latest business venture, her confectionary brand Janice Wong, brings her to London. The Honest Food Talks team sat down with Janice to learn more about her day-to-day and what inspires her edible art pieces.
Where did the idea for Janice Wong come from?
I fell into the world of culinary arts by chance through a life-changing farm trip in Melbourne, Australia. Since then, I’ve never stopped in testing the limits and boundaries of traditional dessert, chocolate and pastry making. I’ve had amazing opportunities to learn from some of the world’s best chefs, including US luminaries Thomas Keller and Grant Achatz, virtuoso Spanish chocolatier Oriol Balaguer, and French pastry chef Pierre Hermé.
I opened my first dessert restaurant, 2am:dessertbar, in Singapore in 2007 and then in 2014, the Janice Wong Pure Imagination was formally established to market, offering a wide range of confectionery products, including custom chocolate bon bons, cakes and ice-cream, which has now grown into three retail stores across Singapore and global concession stands.
What does your typical day look like?
I usually do a media interview in the morning and then go back to work! I spend most of my days going to different locations to meet a lot of my head chefs and managers. I spend a lot of time with my head of business development and head of creative, and liaising with people from overseas outlets to ensure the brand is carried through consistently.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I’d tell her to take more time out for myself!
What is the one thing you do over and over again and recommend everyone else do?
I stay focused on our philosophy and prioritise innovation. Adapting to the current climate and making quick changes are important to building a successful business.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
To me, it’s important that when you build a brand it is built to last. Brand-building is very important; the greater purpose is to inspire, deliver warm hospitality, and create a family. I like to stay hands-on in all my ventures even up till now, I like to handle everything myself, being personal has always been my thing.
Innovation and creativity are key credos we live by. We are constantly challenging ourselves to create new and innovative desserts that are paired with cocktails and aim to tantalise their senses and bring our guests through a gastronomical journey.
What’s one trend in the F&B industry that excites you?
More than ever, guests are cognisant of the food sources and health. With that in mind, as we push the boundary for innovation in food, we are mindful of the changing palettes and demands. Vegan, low sugar, no sugar, substitutes all come into play which is an exciting new challenge. As we experiment with these changes, our techniques have to evolve as well, so as to not compromise on taste and experience.
What are some of your favourite places to eat?
My top three dessert spots in London would be, Arôme Bakery in Covent Garden, Café Kitsuné at Pantechnicon in Belgravia and Buns From Home in Notting Hill.
They’re all just simply delicious!
Are there any exciting plans coming from Janice Wong soon?
We recently launched our first concession in the iconic Selfridges store on Oxford Street which was very exciting. Launching in London is a big step forward for our brand, as it opens us up to more consumers and markets in the near future. We want to keep telling stories, talking about our heritage, and getting people excited about the future of design meets arts meets dessert.
It has been a huge success so far and the move heralds a new chapter for the brand as we look towards further expansion in the UK and into Europe.
We’re also opening 2am:dessertbar in the W Sydney Hotel in October. Located in the heart of Darling Harbour we are excited to bring our signature desserts and a new degustation menu to Sydney and open our first permanent outpost in Australia.