The cream of the crop

The cream of the crop

Edible art

The cream of the crop

A couple of years back, this alchemist of flavours pulled something out of the box that left the culinary world zapped. She transformed her studio space into a canvas and dotted it with edible art installations. So the ceilings had marshmallows and the walls were adorned with gumdrops.

That then is Singapore-based artist, author and culinary stylist, chef Janice Wong! Guided by the philosophy ‘Perfection in imperfection’, she has shirked the weight of tradition to transform desserts into works of art, pleasing to the senses.

In the city for the ‘World on a Plate’ event, Janice, who had also won the title of Asia’s best pastry chef, takes Anupama Ramakrishnan through her life and work.

How acquainted are you with India?

I come here once every two years. This is my fourth or fifth time already, so I have been here quite a number of times actually. I am excited to visit the markets here. That is really how you learn what India is — instead of by being in a mall, for example.

What entices you here?

Spices — it is the number one ingredient when it comes to India. I am a big fan of Indian food, especially North Indian food. I really enjoy the flavours. Also, I have my go-to-places in Singapore for Indian food. Just the smell, you know, captures you — in the mornings, you smell mint and coriander. It’s beautiful.

You wear the mantle ‘Dessert Queen’. Is it challenging?

I think it’s a lot of pressure but I really enjoy what I do. I just keep going and don’t really think about it. I just love sweets and  I love to cook sweets.

You have taken an unusual detour...from banking and financing to being a chef. What inspired you?

As a child, it has always been about culture. I was introduced to different cultures at a very young age. From Singapore to Hong Kong and Tokyo, we used to travel quite a bit across the world. Culture is what defines you. The exposure to cultures, marriage of techniques and things you learn as a kid influence you.

What would you recommend of your creations...

Back in Singapore, I have a confectionary boutique in Paragon, a restaurant in National Museum and the ‘2 am: dessert bar’ in Holland Village. At the Paragon, you can have 20 types of chocolate bon bons, four flavours of icecream and mochis. At the National Museum, you have the modern dim sum and avant garde desserts.

What’s on your shopping list this time around...

Spices... cinnamon sticks especially. I am a food person. I rather buy food than clothes.