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Sarah Todd

Celebrity chef and author

From a small town in Queensland to the beaches of Goa via the catwalks of Europe, Sarah Todd has found her place in India. The celebrity chef, cookbook author, and host of television food and travel programs is passionate about the country, its people and, of course, its food.

How did you start? What made you choose this career path?

I grew up in Mackay, Queensland, with my mum and two brothers.  At the age of 18, I was discovered as a model and moved south to Sydney under contract. I spent the next several years travelling the world visiting amazing places like London, New York, Germany and New Zealand. This is how I discovered a love for food and culture. However, it wasn’t until I had my son Phoenix that I started experimenting with cooking.  When we moved to London in 2012, we lived with Phoenix’s grandparents and I was immersed in Indian culture. I was doing quite a lot of modelling and one day, during a lingerie shoot, I realised that I wanted more. I decided to enrol at Le Cordon Bleu.  I knew I’d found my calling and managed to top my class. I decided to enter MasterChef Australia and if my application was accepted, we decided to move back to Australia.  I flew back to Australia for the auditions and could not believe it when I made the top 50. 

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What made you take the leap overseas and why India?

It began when I cooked a traditional Punjabi dish known as aloo gobi during an episode of MasterChef Australia. After that episode I got tens of thousands of followers on Facebook within a few weeks. While my season of MasterChef Australia was still airing in India I decided to plan a two-week trip to India incorporating cooking demonstrations around the country.  I was recognised everywhere, and the people were so friendly.  One lovely lady from India commented on Facebook that I had been adopted as ‘India’s very own daughter-in-law’.

"Indians are a loving people who have welcomed me with open arms" – Sarah Todd

What were the biggest hurdles in building your business and how did you overcome them?

The biggest hurdle for me in building my business (Antares restaurant) was learning to become a boss. I went from a 10-year modelling career to opening a 250-seat Restaurant and Beach Club.  Not only was I opening such a huge property I was also doing it in another country and in a country where English wasn’t their first language.  There were a lot of challenges and I have to say that even now in my third season, I am still learning. It is a rewarding experience and I believe that I have made that transition and with a fantastic team, Antares is making its mark in India.

What’s one of your most favourite things about living and working in India?

My favourite thing about living and working in India is its diversity. I love Goa for its laidback lifestyle much like that of my home state of Queensland.  But I also love the frenetic pace of cities like Bombay and New Delhi.  Indians are a loving people who have welcomed me with open arms.

"I went from a 10-year modelling career to opening a 250-seat Restaurant and Beach Club"
– Sarah Todd

What do you know today that you wished you had known when you first started?

Gosh, to be honest I think if I knew then what I know now, I would be shocked, and I don’t think anything could have prepared me for this challenge.  It really was a rollercoaster ride.

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Is there something particular about the Australian character/culture that drives people to search out international experiences?

Australia is isolated from the rest of the world in terms of distance.  When I lived in London, it was nothing to hop over to Paris or Amsterdam for the weekend in less time than it would take us to drive to a nearby city in North Queensland where I grew up.  We have a curiosity and I believe it is a young Australian’s rite of passage to explore these foreign lands for themselves.  We are fighters, hard workers and competitive, and achieving success in other countries is a challenge that some of us like to meet head on.

What makes you proud to be Australian? 

I’m proud to be Australian because I think we are a hard-working nation who are very accepting of different cultures. 

More on Sarah Todd:Todd appeared in the 2014 series of MasterChef Australia, where her flair for Indian cooking quickly struck a chord with the audience. She gained a huge following in India and went on to open a beachside restaurant in Goa, the challenges of which were documented in the six-part television series My Restaurant in India. Todd is the author of the "Healthy Model Cookbook" and host of Serve it like Sarah, a series which explores Goan food and culture. 
 

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