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JANICE WONG B


installations were both inspired to join her team in Singapore. Her lollipop ceiling and marshmallow panels will be part of Singapore: Inside Out, an exhibition featuring 20 different Singaporean artists that will be seen in Beijing, London and New York in celebration of Singapore’s 50th anniversary of independence. Her biggest project right now is to launch


“Janice Wong”, a small shop in a mall in ION Orchard, right in the heart of Singapore, in August. Since last December, she has had pop- up stores selling 100 different sweet treats such as marshmallow panels, cakes, éclairs and 38 different colours and flavours of chocolate paint. She challenges her team to come up with one new éclair flavour each week, from peanut butter caramel to popcorn-flavoured. For three months, Wong stopped travelling, devoting every single day to being hands-on in the factory. She worked 16-hour days, painting the marshmallows and gummies and producing all the chocolates.


The importance of play


Her growth into retail is a result of her partnership with Manoj Murjani, founder of Singapore luxury brands The Wellness Group (TWG) and TWG Tea Company. There are plans to expand the shops around Singapore, and internationally there is keen interest from Japan. “This is a brand new concept,” Wong explains. “We are still understanding the local palate, so this will need a year of research.”


On her extensive travels, Wong has observed the pastry world to be still largely male- dominated, “You see a lot of female pastry chefs that are at the junior level. This is true in my kitchen as well. We have 15 chefs – all are women, except the top two who are men.” Is her gender a hindrance in achieving her


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dreams? “Sometimes I forget I am a woman,” Wong says matter-of-factly. “It’s so easy to keep going at a masculine pace. You forget to think, ‘Can my body handle it?’ It’s such a physical and mental undertaking. That’s why I eat very healthily, so I’m 100% fit for everything.”


“This game is 80% mental and 20% physical,”


she says. “I used to play squash for my country. I trained from the age of nine for eleven years, twice a day. My greatest achievement was being ranked second in Singapore.” “I had a Pakistani coach,” she recalls. “He would put a cross on the wall and I had to hit it 100 times on the cross consistently. If I was even just a little off the mark, I had to start again.” This clearly is where the desire for perfection


comes from. “This is how my life has been shaped. And I think God has given me the gift of awareness,” she says.


Her recent epiphany is the purpose of her shop: “It is not for me to put beautiful things there to showcase my skills. It is so I can invent and give back to customers their childhood memories. They come into the shop to be young again.” I have no doubt Janice Wong’s shops will


succeed. Earlier in the day, this self-proclaimed rebel created three perfect chocolate balloons, then smashed them with a hammer in front of the audience for everyone to eat. Wong takes her craft seriously, but also values the importance of play. “If I didn’t play, I would have died from stress


by now,” the tireless pastry chef says. When it comes to perfecting pastry play, Janice Wong hits it right on the mark.


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From far left: Interior of 2am:dessertbar; signature dish Chocolate H2O; creating a nori marshmallow ceiling; another view of 2am:dessertbar; the bar’s tables look like they’re made of coloured poured chocolate


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