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Art imitates food imitating art imitating food

Oct 21,2019
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Singapore-based pastry chef Janice Wong poses in front of an art wall painted and decorated with edible chocolate Friday at Paradise City in Incheon. [PARADISE CITY]
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Who says pretty chocolates only come in a decorative box? Singapore-based pastry chef Janice Wong says chocolate can be a medium for interactive art. She has been making a gigantic art wall which is painted with chocolate, and anyone can take the diamond- or flower-shaped chocolate attached to it or even lick the wall. A version of Wong’s popular chocolate wall is now in Korea, inside the Paradise City in Incheon, to welcome anyone who wants to have a different chocolate experience for a break.

“We are very, very focused with sweet experiences,” said Wong, asserting that she thinks chocolate can not only satiate one’s sweet tooth, but also be used as an inspirational or educational object for the young and the old.

The chef, who has been making chocolates for Korean consumers in partnership with Paradise City, used five different colors, including pink and turquoise, that are inspired by Wonderbox, an amusement park located inside the resort. She said the use of colors in her creation is very carefully chosen, as she thinks colors are what make her very emotional. She took time Friday to complete the wall, which will be on display from today on the third floor of the Plaza inside the resort. About 30 kilograms (66 pounds) of chocolate paints are used, with 500 edible chocolate flowers, 200 chocolate diamonds and about 300 bonbons, making it possible for any passerby to get close and pick out any treat they want to try. What she thinks is most important is a more wholesome chocolate experience, in which where you eat it and how you eat it is more than just picking up a piece from a box and being done with it.

Wong, who gets her creative inspiration from experiencing different cultures during her travels, sat down with the Korean media to talk more about her passion for sweets.



Q. Why are you making these art walls?

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The idea was first used in 2011 when I needed to feed 400 people at the same time. Instead of having a buffet on a table, I wanted to create something people can enjoy from afar. It’s like a really cool buffet.



What chocolate aspect are you studying now?

I’m studying a lot about chocolate and texture. I even gave lectures at Harvard University. It’s about chocolate and edible wax, cacao butter, and the use of oil, fat and many others. I would like to learn more and discover and educate the other students. Because I work with chocolate and sweets every day, there are things that I and other [working] chefs know and feel more than others do.



How is the global sweet market these days?

It’s definitely challenging as sugar now is thought to be the No. 1 enemy. People are going for heathier choices, so we have to be more creative in how to make sweets. I think for us, we are focused on offering the overall sweet experience. For one, we create very beautiful desserts because people now take photos first. Also, there are still children who never had chocolate in their life. It is very important of us chefs to think how people would experience certain things when they never had it.



What are the products that you are working to make these days?

We work on edibles. We make edible chocolate crayons and will launch edible toys in Singapore in December. We also work to make edible playdough so that sweet experience gets even more fun. We are pushing the boundaries everyday.



Has being based in Singapore and making chocolate helped you in building your career?

It may actually have been a disadvantage because Singapore doesn’t have a long history of enjoying sweets. And the all-yearlong summer weather doesn’t really help much either as high temperature, humidity and other conditions make it difficult to control chocolate. And the country is always trendy and new trends [take the attention] all the time, which means, it is difficult for a brand to pursue something consistent. It is very challenging since we are against all odds, but that’s what makes it fun.



Speaking of coming up with brand new creations, what inspires you?

I celebrate the imperfection in perfection and perfection in imperfection. For example, I have a very, very strong philosophy that a broken flower is very beautiful. The idea stuck with me since I was young. I see the beauty in the broken. When you have that philosophy, in any situation you are in, you can really find a lot of peace and joy.

BY LEE SUN-MIN [summerlee@joongang.co.kr]