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Researcher quits job, becomes 3D-jellycake artisan

After 12 years of working for a state research institute, 41-year-old Tran Thi Phuong Nga decided to resign and put away her master's degree to pursue making 3D jelly cakes.
Tran Thi Phuong Nga.

In 2015 when Tran Thi Phuong Nga was working at a veterinary research institute, the 3D jelly cake art trend started in Vietnam and she wanted to make one for her kids.

Her first batches of fruit jellies were not as appealing as store-bought ones but they were delicious and she began to learn more about 3D jelly through online videos.

Her husband thought it was "silly" of her to be so invested in this activity. There were days when she made jelly all night just because she enjoyed it and felt passionate about the picturesque cakes. 

Each set of jelly making kit at that time cost 250-350,000 VND, but each type of flower required a specific needle. That is not a small amount of money for a civil servant. She noticed that the needles when forming flowers were not flexible.

One day, while drawing stamens with a G18 medical needle, she came up with the idea of bending the needle to make it easier to rotate. Thinking about doing it, she bent the needle to draw a phoenix flower and found it to be successful.

Then she began to find ways to draw many different flowers on the 3D jelly cake in realistic ways from color to line.

Her 3D jelly cakes gradually left an impression on viewers, and helped her personal brand in the 3D jelly making community. 

She began to have domestic and foreign students in classes throughout Vietnam, in Malaysia, Taiwan (China) and Singapore.

In 2018, when she felt that she could not bear both jobs at the same time, she thought carefully and gave up the job she had had for 12 years.

“Actually, I could still do both jobs if I had to. I was still able to complete my duties at the office, but I wasn't as passionate about it as I once was," she said.

At that time, people were criticizing and mocking her, but she decided to follow the path she chose.  

Many of Nga’s students have won international awards in 3D jelly making.

By training and sending students to compete in international jelly competitions, the art of 3D jelly making in the country has been recognized and appreciated in the region. From 2017 to 2019, she had students who won the highest prizes in international jelly competitions in Taiwan (China) and Malaysia.

Since then, she has received media attention and was awarded the title of Vietnamese culinary artisan.

Nga said that to follow the profession, having talent is an advantage but not a decisive factor. Anyone with love and persistence can learn. However, to pursue it in the long run and achieve success, there must be great determination and sacrifice, in addition to passion.

Nga’s dream is to organize a 3D jelly making contest in Vietnam for those who are passionate about the culinary art.

Phuong Nga's "artworks":

Perseverance and passion are required to create the cakes, Nga said.

Dang Duong

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