A few years back Sarah Todd was working as a successful model in London when she decided to swap the catwalk for the chef’s kitchen.
“There was just one day when I was sitting in lingerie on a modelling job and thought ‘Oh my god what am I doing with my life?’. That evening I ended up applying for Le Cordon Bleu Cooking programme, ended up doing it full time, became obsessed with food and cooking, and it just took over my life,” Sarah told us.
She became particularly fascinated with Indian cookery, inspired by the abundant feasts her former partner Devinder’s Indian mother would make.
After completing cookery school, Sarah returned to her native Australia with Devinder and their young son Phoenix and entered MasterChef Australia in 2014.
While she didn’t win, she did land a job as Junior Chef at Melbourne’s prestigious Saint Crispin restaurant, and gained a huge fan following – particularly in India.
“In one episode I cooked a village food from Punjab in North India. Because MasterChef Australia airs in India I got this huge social media following from India just overnight – literally 50,000 new followers. I couldn’t believe it, so I ended up planning a whole trip around India that included cooking demonstrations in a hotel and in a fine grocery store – I just fell in love with the country,” Sarah explained.
During this trip she met her now business partner, who was so impressed at the fanfare surrounding her visit that he was eventually able to persuade her to set up shop in Goa, by opening a restaurant and beach club.
This restaurant, Antares, is the subject of W’s documentary series My Restaurant in India.
The show, now in its third season, has covered the struggles Sarah faced establishing a restaurant in a foreign country all while being a mother to a young child. With the restaurant now established, the series has celebrated the eventual success and freedom she now enjoys as a successful restaurateur.
“My biggest challenge was from being a worker to being the boss and making executive decisions. It took me four or five months just to get my head around that and that if things go wrong – it’s my fault – I’m the owner and have to take control of things…
“It’s extremely rewarding once you get past the hard times, you end up having more flexibility and time in the long run. Now I’m past that tough time I am able to see Phoenix (now six years old) so much more. He’s extremely proud, he says yeah my mum has a restaurant!”
Sarah told us she hopes the show will inspire other women to take the leap into the business world.
“Times are changing. Women have to work. Not many families can afford to have a housewife anymore and women don’t even want to do that anymore. If you have a dream, just go for it and do it because it’s extremely rewarding once you get past that initial difficult time.”
As for what’s next, Sarah is already planning her second restaurant! This time it will be in the cosmopolitan Indian city of Mumbai where she’ll continue to infuse Australian cuisine with rich local spices and produce.
“The dishes will be extremely flavoursome. Mumbai is an exciting and international city and the new restaurant will reflect this and be little more fine dining than in Goa.”