Months after taking home the title of Pastry Chef of the Year from Eater Charleston, Cynthia Wong announced that she was leaving Butcher & Bee, which is where many in the Lowcountry learned of her wondrously delicious creations.
“I was a little geek when I was a kid and I’ve always wanted to bake,” says Wong. She started as a bread baker in San Francisco, from there she decided to attended culinary school right outside Paris, traveled Europe, and then settled into Atlanta, where she helped open Cakes & Ale. Then there were stops at Empire State South and Rhubarb, but when her husband, John David Harmon, was asked to relocate to Charleston, and they felt the town was a little bit more in line with what they were looking for. “We live 10 minutes to downtown and 15 minutes from the beach,” says Wong, “You can’t beat that.”
Upon arriving in the Lowcountry, Wong went to work for Butcher & Bee, where she earned two semifinalist nominations for the James Beard Awards Outstanding Pastry Chef. She will leave the restaurant in May, and until then, she’s quiet on the details of her next steps, but she does confirm that she will stay in Charleston.
She hints that she’s done with super complicated restaurant plating desserts. “Though, I have totally foamed all over the place with gels and 50 squeeze bottles and dehydrated chips, but now I’m really done with that,” says Wong, “I want about three things on the plate, and that’s about it.”
Wong says ice cream and ice cream treats make her excited. Her faux fried chicken ice cream dessert went somewhat viral in Charleston. Perhaps a hint at the next project?
She also speaks of her admiration for fellow Lowcountry pastry chef Melanie Durant who started the breakfast food truck sensation Scram. Wong said that when Durant decided she was done with restaurants, she worked on her mobile kitchen idea, and now it sells out almost every day. “It’s been a great success,” says Wong of Scram, “Charleston is a very interesting food community, in that it’s still in the stages of early growth, and it’s difficult to find opportunities as a pastry chef or a baker — you have to make your own opportunities.”
Wong isn’t revealing her next move yet (though, our fingers are crossed for a super-deluxe, high-end, ice cream treat truck), but she promises more details will come out after May.
• Charleston’s Eater Awards Winners 2017 [ECHS]
• All Butcher & Bee Coverage [ECHS]
• Cakes & Ale [Official]
• Cynthia Wong’s Ice Cream Drumsticks Are What Your Life Is Missing [CP]
• Highly Praised Pastry Chef Parks Breakfast Truck on James Island [ECHS]