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Sarah Todd: An International Model Who Rules The Food World

Sarah Todd: An International Model Who Rules The Food World
Types of food at The Wine Company, Photo Credit: Puneet K. Paliwal

From a widely acclaimed international model to conquering hearts with food, read up on Sarah Todd's journey which has seen her open three restaurants in India.

Anshika Nagar
December 08 , 2018
03 Min Read

From being an international model to being part of MasterChef Australia and finally heading three restaurants in India; you have had quite the journey…

Celebrity chef Sarah Todd

 

I am from a very small town in Queensland, Australia (with a population of a thousand people). I was just out of school, taking part in these random contests when I won a trip to Sydney to watch an Escada fashion show. At the show, a lady came up to me and asked if I was a model and the next thing I know, I was handed a contract and was travelling all over the world. Fast forward a few years to when I was living in London. I was at this shoot, when I realised, ‘this is it’. I didn’t want to be a model anymore. Over the last years, my passion for food had grown. I remember the first time I went overseas, to Germany, things were going horribly wrong and I was quite low. I was staying with this man who served some warm coconut cream soup for dinner and it was just so beautiful. But I couldn’t tell him how much I enjoyed it because he couldn’t speak English. I remember thinking that people may not speak the same language, but everyone speaks the language of food. So, I took a decision and applied to Le Cordon Bleu, giving myself a year to pursue cooking. It was a whirlwind. I had gotten through MasterChef Australia and for one of the tasks I had prepared aloo gobi. It was like an overnight flux of followers. I ended up flying to India for a few cooking demonstrations and I knew I was in love.

From wanting to open an Indian restaurant in Australia, you did just the opposite...

Coincidently, I was having lunch at The Wine Company when I met Ashish Kapur. Months later, he rang me up saying, “Sarah, I want to open a restaurant in Goa and I want to do it with you” and I thought he had gone mad! But I flew down, and I was sold. As a foreigner, making the menu for Antares was a little challenging. No amount of research helped because the ingredients and the produce just didn’t taste the same. I went around Goa sampling food and talking to producers. I ended up creating an exclusive menu using just the produce from around the state and it clicked—with a lot of seafood, of course. The most interesting thing, though, was making a vegetarian menu. It was difficult but I wanted to create dishes that went beyond the regular pasta and pizza, or weren’t centred around mushrooms or paneer.

There is a common misconception that Indian food doesn’t pair well with wine...

I think when it comes to Indian food, people think of home-cooked food. They don’t believe that Indian food can be refined. Wine pairing is a process of trial and error but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t possible. Spicy or smoky wines work well, cutting through Indian flavours easily.

Tell us about the menu you curated for The Wine Company...

The focus at The Wine Company was to make the Indian audience comfortable with wine. We did that by drawing people in with the food, by creating a food culture that made people want to keep coming back. We use Indian flavours but cook using French techniques like our flambé of Kashmiri kalari cheese. We have given people the liberty to experiment and familiarise themselves with wine. So, while we do have a specific list of pairings with every dish, we encourage people to choose and just have fun.

What is the one Indian food item that completely baffled you?

Oh, I think it would definitely be paan. It is so bizarre that the strong, intense flavour is so balanced. And to think it is a digestive! I think it is great that Indians think of adding digestives to their meals.

 


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