Singaporean pastry chef Janice Wong has been running the highly successful 2am:dessertbar for 9 years, and here are some secrets behind her success.

Annabelle Jeffrey  |  Singapore
Published 2016-10-04 10:32:18

Dessert queen Janice Wong made global headlines when she appeared in season 7 of Australia’s Masterchef as a guest judge.

But what many don’t know is that the young chef and entrepreneur has actually been making news for the past nine years, for her tantalising and eye-pleasing dishes found at her restaurant 2am:dessertbar.

The Singaporean pastry chef sat down with The New Savvy recently for an interview about her work and life. Here are some life lessons we took from the interview.

1. Preservering Pays Off

Janice presenting at Masterchef Australia/ Image credit: Tenplay.com
Janice presenting at Masterchef Australia/ Image credit: Tenplay.com

When she decided to make the change from banking and financing to being a chef, Wong’s father, though supportive, warned her that being a chef meant long and gruelling work hours.

“You know, the starting pay is like $1,300, even $1,200. It’s real, and it’s still real right now.”

However, she was not deterred by that factor. Wong rationalises that every business or discipline has long hours – be it in architecture or media, because there will be long hours if work is needed to be done. Hence, it should not be the reason that will destroy her dreams of being a chef.

Well, it looks like her perseverance has paid off. Wong is now the proud owner of more than one restaurants, of which, some are even situated overseas.

2. Don’t Dwell In Anger

Let bygones be bygones. Wong emphasises that holding grudges and staying mad at someone or something helps no one – neither the person holding the anger nor the person who caused it.

When anything bad occurs to her, Wong just lets it go and move on. The reason being that she does not like to waste her time or energy on those matters. It works the same with her team as well.

“We don’t dwell on issues and problems, and we’re always a very progressive team,” she says.

3. Embrace Your Challenges

Janice's signature dish Cassis Plum/ Image credit: matome.naver
Janice’s signature dish Cassis Plum/ Image credit: matome.naver

She knew from the moment she started 2am: dessertbar that there were going to be challenges everyday.

However, to Wong, when she’s facing a challenge, she feels that its great to have the downs, as the ups would feel a lot more satisfying.

“I always tell my team that you cannot have a perfect day every day. It’s just not possible. So my team embraces challenges,” she explains.

That is a critical philosophy she imparts to her teams, whether in Japan, Hong Kong, or Singapore, she reveals. The fact that her team now consists of more than a hundred employees that span across three countries, Wong feels that it’s crucial to give them a lot of positive energy.

She also adds by informing that her flagship store in Singapore which opened in August was the first ever restaurant where she needed to create both sweet and savoury food, and is one of her bigger recent challenges.

4. Dare To Be Different

Janice with her edible art/ Image credit: So shiok
Janice with her edible art/ Image credit: So shiok

Think differently – that’s an advice Wong wants everyone to adhere to.

“I think the reason why every person is so unique is that we all think very differently. I think it’s crucial to have that.”

She even has a sign just in her kitchen with the words “Think Again,” engraved to it to keep reminding herself of her motto in life.

5. Have Courage

Having courage is about knowing what you want and then going ahead to get it, according to Wong,

“It’s always about the courage. You can have an idea, but what’s even more important is to have the courage actually to move forward and carry out the idea. So the asset is the mind. You set your mind to it, and then you do it,” she says.

One of Wong’s role models is Coco Chanel, and she was the inspiration to Wong’s courage.

“She believed in what she did. She broke all boundaries that a female can’t do it. If you look at her background, you realise just how courageous she was. So, she is one woman who inspires me, because she had all the qualities of determination, discipline, also courage.”

6. Keep Learning

Janice at Magnum choco cappuccino masterclass/ Image credit: gobblediaries.wordpress
Janice at Magnum choco cappuccino masterclass/ Image credit: gobblediaries.wordpress

Wong explains that she’s always challenging herself by learning new skills.

“I just took up another coffee course at Better Brewsters upstairs, and I’m learning coffee. When I was in Japan, I was learning pottery, I was learning just different skills sets, and I love learning,” she says,

To Wong, curiosity is something embedded in her personality, and she never stops wanting to find out more.

To her, if she does something she’s not comfortable with, but is willing to take the risks involved, the rewards are definitely gratifying.

This young entrepreneur surely knows her way around the kitchen and life itself.

Well, after nine years of helming 2am: dessertbar and bringing it to where it is now, it’s no wonder that Wong is where she is today. So, if you’re aiming to be the next big success in your field, be sure to take a few life lessons from her, and you might just end up with your dream job.

Feature image credit: huffingtonpost.com

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