I first met Chef Janice Wong at her deliciously unique dessert bar in Singapore in the early hours. It’s called, unsurprisingly, 2am: dessertbar. It’s a showcase for this talented lady and offers a flavour of this, her literary debut.
Janice looks even younger than her young years but she has packed a lot into less than 30 of them, and has earned the respect of her peers. That regard was broadcast internationally when she was recently acclaimed Asia’s Best Pastry Chef at Asia’s 50 Best Restaurant Awards in Singapore. This local girl brought yet another accolade to a city renowned for being the home of some of the most innovative restaurants in the world.
But Janice didn’t initially find this passion for food in Singapore. She was studying in Melbourne, Australia, when she was struck by the wealth of foods from many different culinary traditions. She changed her academic path and eventually went to France to study patisserie in earnest. Yes, Janice has learned techniques from the world’s finest but the imagination, drive and whimsy is Singapore-made and totally original.
Perfection in Imperfection is striking. Its cover is …well, partly missing. The front is torn (each one by hand) and the spine isn’t there at all. But remember the title and you will start to ponder, muse, think, understand …and that’s what Janice Wong encourages her diners and readers to do.
Perfection in Imperfection is a cookbook, but it is so much more. It’s not a culinary destination but more a gastronomic signpost for the reader. Janice’s dessertbar desserts are difficult to replicate. She presents food in the form of art …or is that art in the form of food?
Some recipes are composed with the professional or dedicated and experienced home cook in mind. There are a few with Bloomenthalesque ingredients, but lots that can easily be accomplished by a regular food enthusiast with a more limited larder. Rocher Magnums would be a start, as it uses readily available ingredients to produce a classy, rich and chocolatey frozen dessert. I am intrigued by Bubblegum Gummies, which would make amusing retro edible gifts. Definitely one for every adult with childhood bubble-blowing memories!
Attention to detail of not only the sweet creations but of the book itself is beautifully evident. It’s the class of book that wins awards, the style of book that will become a food literature collectable. Janice successfully combines her love of ingredients with her flair for design. She deftly combs and crumbles, brushes and blends, but – above all – Janice Wong inspires.
Perfection in Imperfection
Author: Janice Wong
Published by: 2am: Lab
21A Lorong Liput
Phone: (+65) 6291 9727
Visit 2am: dessertbar here
Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018