A chef with a sweet tooth

A chef with a sweet tooth

While most people wait patiently for the dessert to arrive, pastry chef Janice Wong says she never understood why the best part of a meal is served last. “I’ve always been a big fan of the last part of the meal, but you always have to wait a long time for it. So I thought, ‘why don’t I create a dessert restaurant so that everyone can enjoy the last part of the meal anytime they want’.” 

With this thought in mind, she set up a progressive dessert bar in Singapore called ‘2am: Dessert Bar’. “I’ve always been an advocate for desserts. When I was 24, I opened ‘2am: Dessert Bar’ and designed it so that I can see my customer while I’m cooking. This was very crucial to me because I didn’t want to be a chef that the customers never see. I think the open kitchen concept is very important.” It has been seven years since she set up the bar and she says that she hasn’t stopped creating new desserts since.

What makes the bar different, apart from it being a haven for dessert lovers, is that it is open well past midnight. As the name suggests, it is open till 2 am. “In Singapore, we sleep and eat late. People can enjoy a late-night dessert. We have a lot of women coming in, actually. I think, if I opened up in India, I would have a lot of women coming in,” she says.

Janice calls her desserts “art on a plate” because they have the right balance of beauty and taste. “There are a lot of different textures, flavours and colours that go into my desserts. I believe in having a balance between them all. People remember the best hot chocolate they had but not how it looks... I’ve learned to not just focus on looks.”

Calling herself a former perfectionist, she says, “All my life, my training was to cut apples one by one or to dice and plate them perfectly. It drove me and my chefs nuts, in a way.

And when I opened the dessert bar, the dill had to be in a particular place and so did the ice cream; everything had to be perfect. But at the end of the day, you get so stressed out that you lose the essence of cooking.” That’s why she penned her book titled ‘Perfection in Imperfection’. “I later learned to appreciate all the brokenness and the beauty in that. Now, I spend a lot more time developing recipes than making things look beautiful.”

On whether there is anything called a perfect dessert, she quips, “There is no such thing as a perfect dessert. Everyone’s version of perfection differs. But as a patisserie, if I can give the ultimate pleasure through one of my desserts, basically I have won the customer over, and that’s more important. That’s what keeps me going,” she sums up.

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