Desserts have always been my Achilles heel, so when asked to cover the winners of Top Chef Monash, I immediately jumped at the chance to interview Ranjanidevi Kannan’s (@randeedeeeeee) winning plate, aptly named: The Decadent Trio, which, as the name suggests consists of a beautiful brownie trio of the following flavours: salted maple brownie, white chocolate mint brownie and cheesecake brownie. These decadent fudge-style brownies have a delightful balance of sweet, salty and rich flavours that complement each other supremely and go exceptionally well with a cup of soothing tea!
I wish I could have met her in person, however due to the time constraints of SWOTVAC, I had to arrange for the interview to be held over Zoom instead. However, her bubbly and cheerful aura more than makes up for it as her enthusiasm bleeds through the screen and carries our conversation marvellously. Before beginning our interview, she briefly introduces herself as a Year 2 Semester 2 student, hailing from the School of Science.
Q: Congratulations on winning Top Chef Monash! What inspired your dish and the flavours behind it?
A: Funnily enough I was watching The Food Network, for inspiration because I do bake for a living and then it just sort of hit me! The three particular flavours that I chose are actually my favourite cake flavours, because they aren’t very heavy on the sweetness to the point where it’s cloying, so I thought to myself
“Why not turn them into brownies?”
And from there I had to of course test it out, do some careful measuring, because in baking like many things there’s a lot of trial and error, just a little bit too much of this or that can result in everything just sort of failing. But, thankfully it worked out in the end and I was able to reimagine my three favourite flavours into brownie form!
When asked about her stance on the controversial mint chocolate chip topic she laughs and states firmly that she is Team Mint Chocolate Chip all the way!
Q: Why dessert in particular? Why not other categories?
A: Before she had me, my mom actually used to run a bakery, but once I was born, she found it difficult to balance between the two, so eventually she chose to step away from the business and take care of me instead. But, she never totally gave up on her passion, because she compiled a book of her recipes which she then bequeathed to me when I was 8 or 9 and honestly I’ve been baking ever since!
Q: Since you mentioned that you do bake a bit for a living, why not pursue that as a professional career?
A: Initially, I did consider culinary arts as a pathway, because my personal dream career has always been a professional baker, but then I decided to just keep it on the back burner as a hobby for now and enrol for my current course which is Environmental Biology. I told myself that I’ll dive into the sciences first and then once I’ve graduated and my life becomes more stable I’ll definitely revisit the idea!
Q: Do you personally have a very big sweet tooth?
A: Surprisingly I don’t! I’ve always preferred my flavours to be well-balanced, which is why when I was testing out the recipes for the brownies I always ensured that there was always a twist to the flavours instead of the plain go-to chocolate which can be overwhelming and sort of monotonous sometimes. I personally believe that desserts don’t have to just be one distinct flavour palate. There’ll always be more creative ways to incorporate other flavour profiles, whether it’s sour, salty or even a bit bitter!
Q: Any advice for people out there who would love to start baking but may be a bit too afraid to try it out? Because we all know that baking can be a very precise art, especially when it comes down to all the tiny measurements and precise timings.
A: Patience is definitely key! Like a lot of things in life, baking definitely doesn’t magically work out the first time you try it. It’s kind of like when you make pancakes: the first one that comes out of the pan will always be just a bit wonky but as you continue making more, you’ll be able to see tiny improvements with each batch. Most of the time, as you practise everything just sort of falls neatly into place and even if it doesn’t, you never know if it could inspire a totally new dish!
And with that wonderful take on baking (and on life in general, when you truly think about it), my delightful interview Ranjanidevi comes to a close and we wish each other good luck for all our upcoming assignments and final exams.
Interviewed & Written by Ashley Lim