Waiting at the famous clock at the information booth at Grand Central Station, people are rushing past searching for loved ones who are arriving early for the weekend. Scott Wong walks up to me and asks if I am with Asian Fusion magazine. I answer positively, and he apologizes for his tardiness. In such a crowd flooding the central hall, I was more surprised he could locate me.
We walk a few blocks in the chilly late afternoon to Café Zaiya in the Kinokuniya bookstore facing Bryant Park. We grab a couple of bento boxes and green tea lattes for dinner and sit facing the park, watching the ice skaters and the frantic energy of the late winter afternoon. After a few bites and comments on the bento boxes, we get down to business.
For a little background, Scott Wong is Chinese who lived in Vietnam until his parents decided to move the family to the United States for a better life as many parents have before them and will continue to do so. When they got to the US, they were placed in the Bronx where there is a surprisingly large Vietnamese population. Following in the footsteps of many Asian-American kids before him, Scott studied information technology (IT) in college and took a job in the field in Manhattan straight out of college.
After a few years in IT, Scott decided to take some cooking classes at the French Culinary Institute and fell in love with the beauty of sugar. Sugar can be sculpted into almost anything, and Scott found his passion in transforming sugar into works of art. He had always enjoyed eating, but he learned to appreciate the art of food through the classes. This new spark had Scott leaving the IT world behind and throwing caution to the wind. He began his own baking business, starting with a dog treat bakery in Brooklyn, which he sold, and now has a by-appointment-only, specialty cake business called Sugar Palette.
When I asked him what the first dessert he transformed into his own after he finished his courses, he had taken the traditional Southeast Asian dessert of fresh mango over sweet, glutinous rice with a drizzle of coconut milk and made it his own. First, he replaced the fresh mango with a fresh, homemade mango sorbet. The glutinous rice was steamed in the traditional banana leaf. Micro tapioca pearls, (aka sago), was introduced into the coconut milk, and a sprinkling of crushed peanuts and sesame seeds rounded out the dessert. For Scott, food is no longer just a staple for survival, but a medium to convey edible beauty.
Sugar Palette is based in Queens with a consultation space to meet with couples to design their cakes for their special day. The cakes are designed to complement the textures of the reception decor and even the bride’s wedding dress. The flavors of cakes and filling are numerous and are more than just the average chocolate and vanilla with Asian-inspired mango and pineapple. To schedule an appointment or just to peruse previously designed cakes, go to http://www.sugarpalette.com. As Scott expands his customer base, keep an eye out for a Sugar Palette storefront which may include inspired cupcakes.