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Sarah Todd — From Model to MasterChef

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A true inspiration with an impressive career that just keeps getting bigger, Sarah Todd went from international model to MasterChef to opening multiple restaurants in India… all while raising her beautiful son Phoenix. A master chef turned master juggler when it comes to the work­­–life balance, Sarah took time out of her busy schedule to talk to us about India, mothering, entertaining… and Chole Chickpea Curry!

Model to MasterChef

After being discovered as a model at the age of 18, Sarah travelled the world working for fashion labels such as Gucci and Seafolly. It was over these years that she discovered her love of different cultures and international cuisine. Returning to Australia to study at the highly-acclaimed culinary arts program, Le Cordon Bleu, Sarah is now a classical trained chef.

Fulfilling the dream

Appearing on the sixth season of MasterChef, where she was pegged as the favourite, Sarah rocketed to fame in both Australia and India after preparing her show-stopping Aloo Gobi, a humble village dish that wowed judges and viewers alike. “I made kind of a fancy version of this really simple dish,” says Sarah. “I didn’t know MasterChef was so big in India. When I later went there, people would stop me on the street and ask, ‘Are you Sarah Todd?!’”

This success and her own burning ambition motivated Sarah to take the incredibly courageous step to follow her dream of relocating to India to open a 400-seat casual fine-dining restaurant in Goa: Antares Restaurant & Beach Club. Documented in the television series, My Restaurant in India, this led to her opening two more restaurants in India and appearing in six television series.

The last five years have been pretty hectic, travelling back and forth between India and Australia. India is amazing — the people are so beautiful. I totally fell in love with the country. But now that I’m established in Melbourne, I’m really looking forward to winding back a little bit.

Fun in the sun

Spending precious time with her eight-year-old son, Phoenix (who sometimes travelled to India with her), is at the top of her list now that she’s located back in Australia, as building a successful career takes compromises, including sometimes being away from him.

Following your dreams takes sacrifice. Let go of the guilt when it comes to spending time away from your family. Just give yourself 100% when you are there. Whatever you do, always be in the moment.

“Between school, travel and all the mania, we love to just cook together and chill at home or in the garden. At the moment, we’re obsessed with giant games, like Jenga and Naughts & Crosses. But I’m not one of those mums who lets their kids win — I’m very competitive. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing!” she laughs.
Sarah Todd

Secret to entertaining

An enthusiastic entertainer who recently gave her alfresco area an overhaul with the Early Settler Reclaimed Teak Cross Leg dining table, Weave dining chairs, Bonnie Wicker sofa and Phoenix concrete coffee table, Sarah’s backyard is looking heavenly and all set to invite friends over.

“I think the key to entertaining is doing all the prep the day before so you can eliminate the stress on the day. I get all the salads and platters prepped ahead of time and have a lamb ready. When people start to arrive, I throw it on the barbecue, open the wine and relax with my friends as it cooks itself.”

I love my new Early Settler furniture. It’s absolutely amazing! I’m definitely going to be making the most of it.

Marking her mark

A successful entrepreneur with a growing list of accolades under her belt, Sarah has also written The Healthy Model Cookbook and has a free e-book chock full of incredible recipes (which you can sign up for on her site). Her enormous social media following is largely due to her healthy and nutritious focus in her recipes and adventurous spirit.

Sarah Todd’s Chole Chickpea Curry

SERVES 4 (WITH SIDES)  |  COOKING TIME: 30 MINUTES

Sarah Todd's scrumptious setup

INGREDIENTS
1 onion, finely diced
1 tablespoon garlic paste
1 tablespoon ginger paste
Drizzle of oil
1 teaspoon cumin, ground
1 teaspoon coriander, ground
½ teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
2 cans chickpeas
1 can tomatoes
¼ cup yoghurt
Flatbread and/or steamed rice (to serve)

PREPARATION
🌶 Sauté onion, garlic, ginger with a drizzle of oil for 4–5 minutes.
🌶 Add the spices, tomato and chickpeas and cook for 15.
🌶 Season with salt and top with yoghurt.
Serve with flatbread or rice on the side and something fresh, like lemon pickle or cherry tomatoes.

A can of chickpeas and tomatoes can be a low as 80c each from the supermarket. If you have flatbread or rice in the pantry, this dish serves 4.

Sarah Todd has more recipes on her site. Don’t miss Sarah’s pikelet recipe in our pancake blog story.

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