Jobs 101: Pastry chef
We had a chat with 2am:lab founder Janice Wong, who is known as “Asia’s Best Pastry Chef”.
Ever wondered how one can pursue a career in the creative and food industry?
Standing out from Singapore’s dessert scene is Janice Wong, an experienced pastry chef who opened 2am:dessert bar in Holland Village in 2007, and 2am:lab in Fusionopolis in 2011.
Who: Janice Wong, 32
Occupation: Pastry chef
Studied: Bachelor of Economics from National University of Singapore (NUS)
Tell us how more about yourself.
Besides being in the kitchen, I love to paint. I am also adventurous, as I like to dive.
Why did you become a pastry chef?
I grew up in Japan with a really sweet tooth. When I was a kid, my parents would bring me to eat éclairs and sweet cream puffs. I always crave for sweet stuff and it’s like a natural thing to be a pastry chef.
I am also eager to change people’s perceptions. For example, what you are sitting on right now is a chocolate table, which has expanded over time. For me, it is a form of artwork that is pretty cool.
Describe a typical day at work.
I start at nine. I am at my factory all the time, running the business and cooking at the same time. I oversee our events, making sure that everything is okay. Every day, I also think of new concepts and new flavours.
What is the most rewarding part of the job?
The customers. You don’t even know what their lives are like, but we take a lot of pride and effort to make that one item (on the menu). If someone enjoys it, it gives me great satisfaction.
How do you stay relevant in this industry?
We are aware of trends, but we come up with our own ideas. We are very organic. It is really important to be in touch with the world since we are busy in the kitchen, so it is crucial to share our creations immediately on social media.
What is the biggest challenge you face at work?
Managing people. Since I opened this place, especially when you are growing a business, you can’t expect to be close to everyone. Team bonding is very important.
When we first started, we had five staff. Now, we have over 30. We are still very small as compared to others, but I don’t want to have it too big because whatever I do translates directly to my work small (team). It is important to maintain quality, as our cakes and desserts are hand-crafted.
How do you get inspiration to come up with ideas for your pastries?
Dreaming, speaking to people, and exploring nature.
What advice do you have for youths who are interested in this career?
Stamina. When you first start out, it is easy and exciting. For the first two years, you will be on a high, but after seven years or 10 years, you might get bored. However, I keep creating new things so it doesn’t bore me.
|What are the educational requirements: There are no educational requirements, as it really depends on how much you want. It is good to have the right attitude; your heart should be in it as well.
Qualities required: Stamina and passion. You also need to be a good team player.
Starting pay: Ranges from $1,300 to $2,000
Working hours: Approximately 18 hours a day. It depends on the nature of events you are involved in.