top of page
Search
  • Writer's pictureHarjot Sidhu

A CONVERSATION WITH RAVNEET GILL, PASTRY CHEF & JUNIOR BAKE-OFF JUDGE.

Updated: May 8

FOR MORE CONVERSATIONS, CLICK BELOW OR SEARCH FOR "LONDON WRITING GUY" WHEREVER YOU GET YOUR PODCASTS





If you’re from an Asian family, you’ll know that there’s no such thing as a recipe. Even when there’s the largest project known to man, an Asian mum will wing it. “A list? What’s a list? I don’t know how to make one of those,” I’ve heard my mum remark, dismissingly, several times in the past (one of those was for my wedding ‘to-do’ list). Yet, what an Asian mum can make is a mind-blowing set of dishes from memory, handed down from generation to generation. A handful of this, a pinch of that, a bunch of spices. You’re good to go. Fail to record these and I fear much of what binds us will be lost. Ravneet Gill is one of the UK’s leading pastry chefs. Her mum, like any other Asian mum, ensures everything is spicy, with no pesky list, or recipe, in sight. But Ravneet does things a little differently. There’s balance. Not only in the quantities, but also in combinations of flavours.


Credit: Sophie Davidson

After graduating with a Psychology degree, Rav decided to train at the infamous Le Cordon Bleu. “If I had carried on along [the Psychology] path, I would have done a PhD and then maybe studied some more. I think I would have been a bit lost, had I done that.” Rav’s mum moved here from Kenya and her dad from India. Her mum worked in the city of London for a little while, before becoming a dinner lady and then a teaching assistant. Her dad owned a cornershop, eventually training to be an accountant in his 40s and also becoming a Sensei. Quite the skillset! Growing up, there was one simple expectation of Rav and that was to “study hard!” So, when she decided to pivot away from her degree, the reaction from her parents, was, well…they were “obviously p****d off. But I understand why. I was in so much student debt and they didn’t see food as a viable career path. But, then again, why would you unless you knew where it could take you? I don’t blame them for that. It was a world they knew nothing about and didn’t feel ‘safe’.”

 

Credit: Junior Bake Off

Leading the way in scrumptious bakes, with published recipe books under her belt, Rav is a TV regular. A judge on Junior Bake Off, you might also find her on your screens whilst having your Saturday morning coffee, as a regular on Saturday Kitchen. Her book Sugar, I Love You takes pride of place in my kitchen and is an immediate go-to for any dessert related ideas in our house (I’d highly recommend the Ras Malai cake!). Whilst in training to be a pastry chef, having chosen to step away from Psychology, did Rav ever think she’d made the wrong decision? “Yes!” she laughs. “I wanted to stay in food though and thought maybe I could apply for some sort of food marketing or buying job. But I didn’t have any qualifications, which is probably why I didn’t get any call backs. I do think secretly though that I would be a great food buyer for a supermarket! It’s where I love spending time, sadly…” Who doesn’t?


Away from reality and morning TV, shows like Disney’s The Bear, Netflix’s Boiling Point and others have portrayed a chef’s kitchen as a volatile atmosphere. As a British South Asian female and already in the minority, this isn’t something Rav is phased by. “I think kitchens are magical places. Here in London, I’ve always found them to be a complete melting pot of personalities and people. It’s something I love the most about them. I realise that I really thrive in chaos, working my way through kitchens, no matter how tough. It has been the making of me! I’m grateful for it.” And where Rav has found wonder and joy in these environments, there will also have been some not so enjoyable experiences. As a result, Rav has taken it upon herself to highlight the more positive spaces. Through her initiative Countertalk Rav is on a mission to highlight and share these positive work environments and connect people in the food industry (something I think other industries could hugely benefit from).


The idea of eating together and sharing food is at the core of the South Asian community. It's also one of the key ingredients to what has helped the South Asian community survive in Britain today and in times of migration. Food is meant to be shared. When I was a child, I remember numerous weekends going to visit my grandparents. They lived with my aunt, uncle and two of my cousins. H.Q., we’d call it. Before I knew it, three other families had turned up and there are more cousins than I can count on two hands. No reason for it, other than the fact that this was just what we did. We’d come together. My mum and aunts would begin rustling up dinner for a group of 20+. No prep. No forewarning. We’d eat and laugh together and do it all over again the following weekend. Just as my family would come together at H.Q, Rav’s recipes bring cultures together, naturally and organically. An unexpected journey with an eventually wonderful destination.

 

FOLLOW RAV ON INSTAGRAM HERE>

VISIT THE COUNTERTALK WEBSITE HERE>

BUY RAV’S BOOKS HERE>


KEEP UP TO DATE WITH FUTURE CONTENT BY FOLLOWING LONDONWRITINGGUY> ON INSTAGRAM

16 views0 comments

Kommentare


bottom of page