Pastry chef opens lab in Tokyo

Pastry chef opens lab in Tokyo

Pastry chef Janice Wong has opened a new lab and office in the Shibuya district in Tokyo. She will be working with fruit and vegetable producers there to find new ways of using Japanese ingredients, with the aim of manufacturing products for a wider audience.

She gave up the 2am:lab space in Fusionopolis here after the three-year lease came up. However, her 2am:dessertbar in Lorong Liput in Holland Village will continue to operate. She will split her time between Singapore and Tokyo, spending three to four months out of a year in the Japanese capital.

The 30-year-old, an economics graduate from the National University of Singapore, was recently named Asia's Best Pastry chef for the second year running at the second annual unveiling of Asia's 50 Best Restaurants, an offshoot of British trade publication Restaurant magazine's World's 50 Best Restaurants list.

She is well-known for pushing the boundaries of what constitutes dessert, and for combining dessert and art; painting abstract-looking works with marshmallows, isomalt, chocolate and "anything I can get my hands on".

After taking a three-month pastry course at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, she worked for American chefs Thomas Keller and Grant Achatz, Spanish chocolatier Oriol Balaguer and French pastry chef Pierre Herme, among others.

She set up her dessert bar in 2007.

The lab followed in 2011 and she received a grant from the Singapore Tourism Board for it. In the three years that it was open, she hosted 13 chefs, conducted cooking classes, published five books and also hosted visitors.

Among these were representatives of various Japanese prefectures who sought her out in a bid to find new markets.

They wanted to find new uses for their products, which included yuzu and other citrus, apples, peanuts, blueberries, eggplants, tomatoes, prawns and beef, among others.

When the opportunity to open a lab and office in Tokyo came up, it seemed a way of expanding her horizons.

She says: "It's very inspirational for me. I don't get the opportunity here. For me, it's like something dropped from heaven, getting an abundance of things to work with.

"The office is where I can meet clients and receive the products, and work with manufacturing companies in Japan."

Her 1,400 sq ft lab and office in Tokyo has four staff and is a joint venture with ESF, a Japanese media, news and publishing company.

She declined to say how much it cost to set up, but adds that the company's connections and business savvy means she can focus on the ingredients and on creating new textures, tastes and products.

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