Janice Wong has the accolade of Asia’s no.1 Pastry Chef. Well, we all know what famous chefs are like. Ego-driven, imposing hulks with loud voices, periodically rude, consistently condescending, care-worn complexions, prematurely aged, and supremely talented.
Perhaps we should have a rethink, a pause in our assumptions, put a hold on swift conclusions. Chef Janice Wong is celebrated, for sure. She is, without doubt, talented. But the rest of the above-listed dubious celeb qualifications are, thankfully, far from the mark. This young woman is petite, alarmingly youthful, quietly spoken and charming. Janice is all about the subject, or rather, about her spin on the subject, of food.
Janice originally considered following in her parent’s career paths, studying economics and finance in Melbourne, Australia. She was inspired by the culinary scene in that city and eventually enrolled in a pastry course at Le Cordon Bleu, Paris, later spending time at restaurants such as Alinea and Per Se. She has worked with some of the best chefs in the world, including Thomas Keller, Grant Achatz, Oriol Balaguer and the much celebrated French pastry chef Pierre Hermé. Not too shabby! Her latest book, Dim Sum, is a visual stunner and it reflects this chef’s attitude towards ingredients and presentation. Her dishes are delicious, often whimsical and always beautiful.
Dim Sum is, as expected, a striking tome presenting a melange of traditional and contemporary confections which Janice developed along with dim sum master Ma Jian Jun. There are both sweet and savoury dishes here, which might surprise some as Janice is the founder of Singapore’s destination 2am:dessertbar. The book is based on the different types of flour which make the dough for dumplings, buns, fritters, pancakes, pastries and more. Not every recipe has flour as a focus but the book reflects the makeup of dim sum menus with baked, steamed and fried goods.
Dim Sum, the book that is, has classic Chinese recipes and they are some of the most iconic; but they come with a Wong twist. Pork Dumplings – but with options to colour the skins. Plain Steamed Buns – but these can transform into beautiful Flower Buns. Chinese Sausage Buns that have the appearance of wrapped candy. For those who crave real sweets, there are recipes here that will fit the bill, like Chocolate Peanut Butter Puffs. Just that title is enough to encourage any right-thinking person to buy the book!
This volume is a visual joy and an epicurean extravaganza. Each recipe is meticulous in its presentation and each image is striking. Janice tempts and intrigues in equal measure but she also charms with her playful interpretations. Janice Wong is Asia’s no.1 Pastry Chef but she is becoming the World’s Pastry Chef – although I doubt that she will change her personality. That’s one of her strengths.
Author: Janice Wong
Published: Gatehouse Publishing
21A Lorong Liput
(65) 6291 9727
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018