‘It’s like magic’ – Rashmi Dias

By Shania Perera

Rashmi Dias is a qualified lawyer who likes to bake and take photos of her food. With her interest in baking stemming from her need to relieve herself of exam stress, she found success in an unlikely place. She now manages her Instagram page “The Baking Law Student” which has over 4,000 followers. Rashmi spoke with The Sunday Morning Happinez about her inspirations, motivation, and future plans pertaining to her passion.

I graduated from law school in 2016 and moved back home to Sri Lanka and sat for my bar exam. It was pretty stressful. So in order to ease my mind and relieve myself of stress, I started baking as I found it to be quite relaxing. I also started having friends over and baking for their birthdays. Later on, I paid more attention to recording what I cooked through photography, tweaking and trying recipes on my own, and adding my own twist to it. That’s how it all started. What’s the story behind your brand ‘The Baking Law Student’?

What’s the reason behind your Instagram handle?

I didn’t have an Instagram account until one of my friends forced me to join recently. She opened an account for me and told me to try it out because it’s cool. And here we are. I started paying more attention to capturing the aesthetics of my food through photography, as I followed other bakers and was inspired to try new methods and recipes. In April 2017, while I was still in the midst of sitting for my bar exam, I thought of making an account where I could showcase photos of my food. And so the handle “The Baking Law Student” was created. The significance behind this handle is to remind myself that I was a law student first and I couldn’t just quit law school and bake, as law was what I wanted to do. It’s easy to get carried away, especially during exam time where everyone begins to regret putting themselves through it. (Laughs)

What superpower would you like to have?

I would like to have the ability to heal people of different illnesses, both physical and mental. In fact, I wanted to become a doctor at one point.

Tell me how photography contributes to what you do.

It was a gap I saw in a lot of places that market food in Sri Lanka; I feel that a lot of places have really good products, but could do a lot more presentation-wise. That’s not to say that I’m a professional photographer, but it is sort of what I like to do; to add elements to the pictures I take. I put more effort into photography because that’s how you can catch the eye of the consumer. On a side note, a lot of my friends actually make fun of me for taking more time to take pictures of food rather than actually making food, which is partially true because when they come over for tea, I make them sit and wait for ages till I’m done taking pictures. This is definitely an avenue I want to explore more.

Tell us about the projects you’ve done and its impact on you.

I’ve had two bake sales. The first was a small-scale one in 2016. The second was last year at the Christmas bake sale at Café Kumbuk. I donated the profits to a charity very dear to me. Right now, I’m running a fundraiser for my dog that’s turning 15 this October. She’s my best friend in the whole world and I’m doing a baking fundraiser in hopes of donating the profits in her name on her birthday to a charity of my choice. These projects are basically on the things I care about. Baking is something I like and enjoy and is also something I can do to raise funds while giving something back.

Where do you find inspiration?

I used to follow Nigella Lawson quite religiously and I used to watch MasterChef Australia when it came on cable to Sri Lanka and was a big thing for a while. I found it quite fascinating that with any dish, even your normal rice and curry, you can distinguish the different flavors and textures. I came to think about it and realized food has a lot of science behind it. All this inspired me. It was actually very therapeutic for me too, baking something and seeing the final product. It’s almost like magic to see flour, sugar, eggs, and butter turning into a cake. For me, it’s like magic.

If you were to have your own business, what would it be?

Since I’m a hobby baker, I laugh when everyone says this would be my retirement plan. One day, I would like to open a cafeteria and offer my own food and recipes.

What keeps you going?

Doing things that make me happy and doing the things I love. My job – I love my job, which is what I always tell people when they ask me to open my own bakery. As I love my job, I want to use baking as an outlet to express myself, relax and calm myself down, or pick myself up when I’m feeling down.

What are the combinations of flavor do you like to play with when you’re baking?

I noticed that people respond to chocolate-related goods. People are a lot more reluctant to try other flavors because chocolate is what they know and like. Not a lot of people will go for the fruity, citrusy, nutty flavors, instead, they go for chocolate – but those other flavors are so wide in variety!

My favorite non-chocolate flavor would be citrus. I like playing with it a lot. And this is something I want to explore further.

Tell me something you’ve taught yourself in the last year, and describe how it’s helped you grow.

That’s a tough question, but I have a few things I’ve taught myself last year; to think outside the box, take more risks, and not waste time on things that make me unhappy or compromise my mental wellbeing. I used to be a person with a one-track mind, but I taught myself to try out different things.

Photo: Eshan Dasanayake