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Chef Janice Wong wants to bring Singapore its first-ever tree-to-bar chocolate made with locally grown cacao.
Most of the world’s cocoa is produced in just two countries: the Ivory Coast and Ghana. But now, the city-state of Singapore will soon be introducing the country’s first-ever local tree-to-bar chocolate, thanks to Chef Janice Wong’s latest project.
Wong has been dubbed Singapore’s Queen of Desserts, and she’s living up to her reputation as a pioneer in Asia’s modern dessert and pastry scene with Pure Imagination. The newly opened shop at Great World City mall in Singapore features a full-scale chocolate factory where customers can learn and see the entire chocolate-making process.
From bean-to-bar to local tree-to-bar chocolate
Right now, the shop uses dried cacao sourced from all around Asia, including the Philippines, Thailand, Colombia and Trinidad. During harvest season, Pure Imagination will craft its bars out of fresh pods from Thailand and Malaysia. But ultimately, Wong wants to bring Singapore it’s very first local tree-to-bar chocolate, made from cacao grown right in the heart of the city.
“Over the years, I’ve cultivated friendships with cacao farmers and suppliers from all over the world but when you think about chocolate in Asia, people immediately mention Vietnam, the Philippines, or Indonesia—all countries that make amazing tree-to-bar chocolate—however, it got me thinking if it was possible for us to do the same in land-scarce Singapore,” shared Wong.
“Thankfully, with the help of amazing partners, we have now embarked on a years-long community effort to eventually fulfill our dream of a true made-in-Singapore, bean-to-bar chocolate.”
Planting cacao trees all over Singapore
Her project will mean planting cacao trees all over Singapore—around 1,000 of them. The ambitious goal will be aided by a number of community partners, including the island’s most famous nature park Gardens By The Bay, as well as Spectra Secondary School. Both the park and the school will be planting dozens of trees, with a number of the school’s students gaining the chance to work with Pure Imagination and explore the art of chocolate-making.
“I’ve always been fascinated by the adaptability and creativity of chocolate as a medium and a craft,” says Wong, adding that she hopes to inspire the future generation of culinary professionals and gourmet chefs.
It’ll also be an opportunity to foster students’ knowledge of food sustainability and security, especially at a time when the country is racing to ramp up its local production to 30% by 2030, as part of its climate resilience plan. Since Covid-19, Singapore’s government has allocated even more funding for local food projects to fend off supply chain shocks in the future.
“Beyond an in-depth understanding of the chocolate-making process, it also allows the student to learn more about how Singapore can work towards growing our own food independently,” said Tan Teck Hock, the principal at the school.
All images courtesy of Pure Imagination.