After appearing on Universal Kids’ "Top Chef Jr." this past winter, first runner-up Chef Rahanna made an appearance on March 9, at Berkeley’s very own Cupcakin’ Bake Shop. For the special event, in addition to learning the ropes behind running a cupcake store, she shared her very own recipe available for purchase—a honey triple cream cupcake with a blackberry frosting. After learning about the pop-up event, I took a couple of minutes to meet Rahanna and try her personal invention. 

Rahanna’s Creation

Dipa Halder

Chef Rahanna's cupcake was made with a triple cream brie base and a blackberry buttercream frosting. The flavor profiles of the cupcake mirrored its appearance flawlessly—a medley of bold and simple elements coming together. The bright flavor of the triple cream brie blended well with the fresh and smooth blackberry frosting. Similarly, the contrast between the pastel yellow and purple colors gave the cupcake a delicate aura. Her ability to utilize an ingredient such as cheese to give the sweet cupcake a subtle tartness showcased her expertise as well as her creativity. 

My Q&A with Chef Rahanna

Besides trying one of her cupcakes, I was lucky enough to get the chance to talk with Rahanna for a few minutes. Here’s what I learned about this young chef and her experience cooking and competing on "Top Chef Jr."

When did you first start cooking?

Dipa Halder

Ever since I was six or seven years old, I was always in the kitchen helping my mom cook. When I turned 10, I started to cook by myself, tweaking old recipes or creating my own.

What was your experience like on the show?

It was a lot of fun. There was a lot of work put into the show, and it did take all of summer. But I think it was such a great experience. I wouldn’t trade it for anything else.

What were some of the highlights?

One of the highlights from the show was definitely sharing all the food with the other contestants after the challenges. We would go over and try everyone else’s food at their stations, and it was cool to see what everyone else had made.

What was your inspiration behind this cupcake?

Dipa Halder

It’s a cheese cupcake with a buttercream blackberry frosting. I wanted to use something that was in season, and I thought, “Oh, blackberries are in season; they’re really juicy and sweet right now.” And so I put the compote into the frosting. It’s a cheese cupcake, since I haven’t really seen anything like that. I think the element of freshness and a kind of bold flavor is something that really works well with fresh fruit.

How do you decide what ingredients to use in your recipes?

I love using fresh and local ingredients. Cowgirl Creamery is a local cheese company, so I used some of their cheeses in my cupcake. Also, I like using sustainable, mostly organic ingredients, so I like working with fresh fruits and vegetables.

Do you have any general future plans or events ahead of you?

Dipa Halder

I’m working on a book. I don’t know when it [will] come out, though. It’s kind of in the middle of a recipe book and a children’s book, since it’s also geared towards children. But if I were an adult, I would still read it as well. Besides that, I’m just practicing for my other future events. 

Despite her young age, Rahanna already has a wide range of experience under her belt. At Cupcakin’, she showcased her baking skills, but on "Top Chef Jr.," she cooked meals that rivaled dishes from fine dining restaurants. Her mom, Mona, even proudly shared that she never forgets to consult Rahanna when it comes to food, whether it’s ordering at a restaurant or picking out ingredients at the market. This just goes to show that any ordinary person can do great things. Cheesy as that may sound, it can be quite easy to forget as college students. So let's all remind ourselves of the potential we each possess.