In 2006, after graduating from NUS with a Bachelor's in Economics, she enrolled in a three-month course in Le Cordon Bleu Paris to pursue a career in pastry. After which, she worked as pastry trainee at French restaurant Les Amis, and under Will Goldfarb at the now-defunct Room 4 Dessert in New York.
She has worked with celebrated chefs such as Gunther Hubrechsen, Loretta Fanella, Arzak, Alex Stupak, Thomas Keller, Grant Archatz, as well as virtuoso Spanish chocolatier Oriol Balaguer and prodigious French pastry chef Pierre Herme.
In 2007, Janice redefined the dessert experience with the launch of her dessert restaurant 2am:dessertbar in Holland Village. Janice has appeared as a guest chef on reality shows MasterChef Australia and MasterChef Asia. In June 2011, she promoted Singaporean food in several cities starting at London as part of #SGTakeout. Then in July, Janice conducted a specially tailored class to impart simple culinary skills to 36 youngsters from MINDS, Lee Kong Chian Garden Schools.
She published her first cookbook in September 2011, Perfection in Imperfection, winner of the Best of Show Award, at HOW International Design Awards. Her book launch also served as the debut of her first edible art installations inspired by some of her featured recipes: A ceiling covered with marshmallow “icicles”. Jackson Pollock-style paintings done with fruit puree. A display of garden “soil” made of white chocolate. Guests were encouraged to “taste” the art works. Janice continues to write another two books Kumamoto and Kochi yuzu. The most recent book is Dim Sum, a recipient of World gourmand cookbook awards.
Building a community that experiments and learns from each other is part of Janice’s vision. In November 2011, she opened 2am:lab, the first of its kind in Asia. She has invited local and international chefs to tinker in the space, conduct workshops and host private dinners. Those who have come include cocktail bar owner Joel Fraser of The Cufflink Club, who used the lab to develop special garnishes like dehydrated fruits and edible flowers; Spanish masterchef and baker Daniel Jorda and Japanese culinary artist Ayako Suwa.
Recently named ‘Asia’s Best Pastry Chef’ for the second year running at the prestigious San Pellegrino Asia’s 50 Best for 2014, she has also won the Pastry Chef of the Year Award at the World Gourmet Summit in 2011, 2013 and 2015.
She has received invitations around the globe to set up more than 45 exhibitions in 2015 alone, clients include fashion brands Fendi, Tiffany and Kate Spade. She created a 30kg artisanal chocolate sculpture, Time In Movement, for Swiss artisan watch brand Claude Bernard’s SG50 Watch Artisans Exhibition at Vivocity on Aug 29 & 30th, 2015.
Janice will open a casual fine-dining restaurant in Hong Kong in March and a dessert eatery in Tokyo in April 2016.
“That’s my goal – to be that person who had such an influence on the future.”
– Chef Janice Wong, on the unexpected impact the creator of cupcakes has made, on the present scene
It doesn’t make business sense. “I could’ve set up two more restaurants with the money,” she admits. Located in Fusionopolis, only 20 per cent of the 2,000 sq ft lab can be monetised – a small corner for private dining – while the rest is kitchen space, meant for visiting chefs to experiment with ingredients and cooking techniques.
But the lab is not driven by dollars and cents, though it did receive an STB grant which will sustain it for two years (Janice is tight-lipped about the amount). Profits from her catering business also fuel it. It’s fed by Janice’s conviction that the region desperately needs an independent space for chefs to innovate, not another chain of lookalike eateries.
Like a scientific facility, the 2am:lab boasts stark white walls and clean, minimalist lines. There’s a curvilinear shelf laden with 400 canisters of ingredients including exotic specimens like kombu seaweed from Japan. Some were collected by Janice on her travels, while others are gifts from visiting chefs.
Building a community that experiments and learns from each other is part of Janice’s vision. Since the lab opened, she has invited local and international chefs to tinker in the space, conduct workshops and host private dinners. Those who have come include cocktail bar owner Joel Fraser of The Cufflink Club, who used the lab to develop special garnishes like dehydrated fruits and edible flowers; Spanish masterchef and baker Daniel Jorda and Japanese culinary artist Ayako Suwa, with whom Janice co-hosted a private dinner in March.