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Empirical Eats

2am: lab is a culinary testing ground for chefs who gather to trade notes and invent new recipes writes Luo Jingmei.

Empirical Eats


March 6th, 2012

Lately, there’s been a different kind of experimenting going on at the Kisho Kurokawa-designed Fusionpolis. Microscopes and dehydrators are the tools but instead of biochemical and mechanics, the subject here is food.

2am: lab

Set up by 28-year-old Janice Wong, the pastry chef behind the acclaimed 2am: dessertbar, the non-profit, 2,000-sq-ft 2am: lab is the first of its kind in Asia.

It was conceptualised as a place for chefs to conduct their own research and development, hold workshops and host intimate private dinners featuring their newly invented recipes. “This space is dedicated to experimentation,” says Wong. “We don’t target housewives or enthusiasts. We target mainly chefs.”

2am: lab

At the “soul of the lab” is the spice rack, a meandering, honeycomb-like plywood shelf lining the entrance. On display are jars of ingredients. “We have made space for 1,000 of these canisters. We go to the farms in Singapore once or twice a week and pick all the herbs. We dehydrate them to make teas. From them we also make our own oils and fermentation projects. [There are] beans, grains [too].”

2am: lab


Architect Chua Cheng Hui – also the designer of Wong’s 2am: dessertbar – conceived the space based on the jar’s dimensions and Wong’s request for a cave-like entrance. Additionally, the sinewy lines are a visual guide into the main space containing rounded workspaces, a demonstration counter and a private dining area. Rooms like the back of house, think tank (a corner dedicated to meetings and the library) and the chocolate room (a temperature-controlled glass enclosure with its own ventilation system for the spraying of chocolate powder) are relegated to the sides but easily accessed from the main space.

Read the full story in Cubes magazine issue #54 out now at Singapore newsstands.

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