Food

A Masterclass with Sarah Todd

Sarah Todd

Sarah Todd  

Sarah Todd won Indian hearts as she presented the aloo gobhi with a flourish to the judges on MasterChef Australia. She shares the incredible journey she has been on ever since

Sarah Todd juggles questions and spices in a banquet hall that doubles up as a kitchen at The Residency Towers, Coimbatore. She whizzes silken tofu, garlic, olive oil, lemon, salt and tahini into a light, creamy and fluffy aioli. Surrounded by saucepans and spices, Sarah looks just like she did on MasterChef Australia all those years ago.

Seared fish with mango salsa

Seared fish with mango salsa  

“Do you still watch MasterChef Australia, Sarah?” someone from the audience calls out and her immediate response is, “No. I have never watched it except once after I knew I was selected in the top 50. My mother, son and I watched what was a Mystery Box challenge episode. As the contestant lifted the box, I stared at the ingredients and burst into tears. I couldn’t think of a single thing to cook with them!”

Sarah says...
  • Taste as you go
  • Balance the flavours. Ensure one ingredient does not overpower the other and let each one speak for itself
  • Bring in different textures to your food
  • Make your plate visually appealing
  • Use seasonal produce and cook with the freshest ingredients you can find
  • Avoid embellishing your dish with something only to make it look prettier. Everything on the plate needs to be edible and in sync with the rest of the food

Of course Sarah faced similar nightmarish challenges in the course of MasterChef Australia. “It was just months of anxiety for me,” recalls Sarah. “The contestants lived together, our mobiles were taken away from us and I missed my son so much.” Though that did make her even more determined to apply herself and make all the heartbreak worth it. “I remember in one challenge I had to cook my dish in 15 minutes. ‘Elimination,’ I remember thinking to myself, as I stared at the tripe with which I had to cook. I don’t like offal and the only recipes I knew took hours to make.”

But Sarah made it! She says that was one of the most valuable lessons she took away from the series. “We had to think out of the box, on our feet and work with what we had at hand.” She chopped it fine and deep fried it and lived to see another challenge. “Learning from people such as Gary, Matt and George besides other great chefs was unforgettable.” They are friends now and, when she planned to come to India for the first time, Matt spoke to her for over an hour on the phone telling her about Indian street food and where she could sample them.

A few of her favourite things
  • Cookbook: Eleven Madison Park: The Cookbook written by Chef Daniel Humm and Will Guidara. While she may or may not try out the recipes in it, Sarah says the photographs are fabulous and she gets so many ideas from them
  • Meal: Breakfast though she enjoys cooking any time
  • Menu: Depending on what is the freshest and most in season ingredient she finds in the local market, she plans the rest of her meal around it
  • Fitness mantra: She does NOT recommend abstinence. Eat seasonal and in moderation. The important thing is to fuel energy and stamina

Sarah won a huge fan following in India, mostly because, in the MasterChef series, she cooked aloo gobhi! “I would watch amazed as my son’s Indian grandmom cooked. There was no measuring, no weighing, nothing...It was just throwing in a bit of this and a bit of that and the end result was delicious,” she laughs. Weighing scales and measuring spoons are not an indispensable part of Indian kitchens while they were so where she came from. “But that is how one can teach cooking. It is not enough to say put a ‘little’ of this or a handful of that.” However, that’s how one should ultimately cook — with instinct, heart and an understanding of ingredients and what works well together, she says.

Ricotta samosa

Ricotta samosa  

Indian cooking is very different from what she learnt at Cordon Bleu. But she realises people responded positively to food that brought back good memories. “I love a caramel custard. It may not be a fabulous dessert, but I love it for other reasons as well. Or my Nana’s boiled vegetables!” She prepares Ricotta samosas. “I know the word ‘samosa‘ will resonate with Indians,” she smiles. So that is what she does when she plans the menu for her restaurants; she runs three restaurants in India now —The Wine Rack (Mumbai), Antares (Goa) and Wine Company (Delhi) and has also authored The Healthy Model Cookbook. “I work with local ingredients and I will ensure that there is always that ingredient or dish that my diners will identify or connect with.”

Sarah Todd was invited to Coimbatore by Entrepreneurs’ Organisation (EO), a network of entrepreneurs who focus on business growth, personal development and community engagement. EO Coimbatore is a part of the Soputh Asia region with 65 members across sectors such as Textiles, Healthcare, Education, Property Development and more.

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Printable version | Jun 6, 2020 4:38:03 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/food/chef-and-author-sarah-todd-talks-shares-her-thoughts-on-food/article26437380.ece

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