An Interview w/ Westport's Own Ramin Ganeshram

Jessica Ryan

I recently had the pleasure to sit down with Ramin Ganeshram to talk about her cookbook; her newly released Stir it Up! a novel written for young adults, as well as her involvement in the community.  

But before you start reading...In Stir It Up! heroine Anjali Krishnan enters a video cooking contest for a shot at a reality cooking competition show on Food Network. She does such a good job she makes it to the finals. If you have a young aspiring chef in your family, check out Ramin's video contest below.

Ramin, who grew up in Brooklyn, New York, was greatly influenced by the cultures of her Iranian mother and Trinidadian father.  The marriage of two different heritages and lifestyles would result creating in new traditions; food was one of them. Ramin explained, “We had access to Middle Eastern markets growing up, but all Middle Eastern ingredients are not the same. Often we had difficulty finding certain Persian ingredients.” As a result time-honored dishes were recreated with a new twist. “In essence we created our own heritage and gave these dishes new names,” she continued.

Ramin would attend the reputable Stuyvesant High School and go on to study journalism at Columbia University. Her earliest writing assignments were technology and internet based. Eventually her journalistic beat would take her to the New York Times and Newsday. While at Newsday she would eventually find her true passion and calling as a food writer. These adventures would eventually take her to Saveur, Gourmet, Bon Appétit and 

One opportunity would lend itself to another and she was approached to write Sweet Hands, Island Cooking from Trinidad & Tobago.  “I am amazed at the continued success of this book,” Ramin says.  She travelled to Trinidad to research her family recipes with hopes of capturing the varied ethnic diversities of the island. The book reflects the vast cultural flavors and lends itself, not only as a wonderful cookbook but great travel resource as well, as recommended by Travel Advisor. 

Ramin’s newly released Stir it Up! is about a young girl with passions, hopes and dreams. The book takes us on a journey as this strong-minded, talented teenager must make a decision, right or wrong, that could very well shape the rest of her life. Shaped, greatly by Ramin’s childhood and her own grandmother, Stir it Up! is a novel that will delight the foodie in all of us. 

Ramin, touted as Champion of the Underdog, by her husband, is devoted to help those less fortunate than her. She is involved with a My City Kitchen, based in Meriden, CT. “Long before Michele Obama started her healthy schools program, Kashia founded My City Kitchen,” Ramin continues. “Meriden is a very economically depressed area and has the highest rate of obesity in the state. Kashia wanted to start a program to educate these children them about proper nutrition.” My City Kitchen’s mission is to instill healthy eating habits, build self-esteem, foster a sense of belonging, establish basic life skills in our children so that they may grow into healthy adults. To teach kids about food, and food products. We hope to encourage kids to take a keen interest in what they eat, where the food comes from, and especially how to prepare it.” Ramin will help with the program’s large fundraiser in March where she will help seek donations from her community as from celebrated chefs she knows.

“I live in Westport where there is privilege. Our community has different needs and so I am asking my neighbors to help those in another area who are less fortunate than they are,” Ramin said. Last year she pulled off a very successful auction in a very short period of time to help those in Haiti. “I hope these disasters won’t continue to happen, but as long as they do I am happy if I can do my part to help the people in need.” 

Locally Ramin does what she can to support local businesses and buys into farm share programs. She supports her public schools and when asked to do a reading or speaking engagement she will gladly wave her fee asking that the funds are redirected to an arts program headed for the chopping block. All of her signings and readings at public schools of need (such as Norwalk, New Haven and Bridgeport) are done for free. “I believe that all children deserve on opportunity to see what’s out there, an opportunity to be able to go after what they want.” Ramin says passionately. This is the central theme in Stir it Up! “I planned it deliberately,” she told me. “I want both children of means as well as those without to get the message. I want the more fortunate children to understand that working hard for something is going to be much more satisfying than having it gifted to you. I also want those less fortunate to learn that they can go after what they want, the opportunities are there for them to do so.”

Calling all teen chefs

In Stir It Up! heroine Anjali Krishnan enters a video cooking contest for a shot at a reality cooking competition show on Food Network. She does such a good job she makes it to the finals.

So how about you? We know you love to cook so how about flexing your culinary muscle on camera in our video contest?

All you have to do is submit a video of yourself cooking your best dish—with your parents’ permission of course.

Winners will be eligible for a bunch of different prizes from signed copies of Stir It Up! to classes at a real New York City culinary school to the grand prize of lunch with author Ramin Ganeshram and Food Network star Daisy who plays herself as a contest judge in the book! 

Go to Ramin's Video Contest Section to upload your video and for contest details!