Sarah Todd

CULINARY MEDLEYS from the Land Down Under.

Here are the few interview trivia with International Celebrity Master Chef Sarah Todd, from Australia.

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 Indian subcontinent, its people and, of course, its food. Today this restaurateur is the owner of three Indian restaurants: Antares, The Wine Rack, and The Wine Company. She has even starred in popular TV shows like My Restaurant in India, Serve It Like Sarah, and Grilled, and traveled across the length and breadth of the country.

Sarah is classically trained in French cookery from “Le Cordon Bleu” and has gained experience alongside Michelin star chef’s Neil Borthwick and Angela Hartnett at Merchant’s Tavern in London, hatted restaurants Tonka and St. Crispin in Australia and was pinned as the favorite to win “Master Chef Australia Season 6”.

Sarah has now published her first cookbook with a worldwide publishing house Penguin. “The Healthy Model Cookbook” focusses on fresh seasonal produce cooked simply and packed with fantastic ways to inject flavor into dishes, after all, healthy eating doesn’t need to be boring. Apart from India, Sarah’s travel extravaganzas have also taken her to exotic countries like Sri Lanka, China, Japan, Turkey, Spain, and Fiji. Places where she has let her food-loving spirit indulge in wild experiences.

Q & A

How do you balance being a Mother/Home and Work? What have you sacrificed (Both Personally and Professionally) At Each Stage of Your Career?

Sarah: Getting the balance right between being a mother and work is extremely challenging and I don’t always get it right. I believe working Mums make many sacrifices and this is certainly true in my case. Five years ago, I decided to open my very first restaurant in Goa (Antares) and to do this I had to spend many months away from friends, family and my son. To complicate things, I was in another country with a completely different culture and I didn’t speak the language.

At times I felt isolated and alone, and on many occasions, I wanted to give up. There was a specific moment for me when I stopped feeling sorry for myself and realized what I was doing wasn’t just about me anymore. I’d had a particularly hard week when nothing seemed to go right and one night, I cried myself to sleep. The next morning, I decided to stop being a sook and headed into the restaurant.

I was busy on the pass when a young girl tapped me on the shoulder. “Mam, my friend and I have traveled six hours to meet you!” she explained. “My friend is a huge fan, could you please say hello?” Her friend was so happy to see me, she was bawling her eyes out. At that moment, I realized that this journey wasn’t about me anymore; it’s about inspiring young girls, especially in India. If we want equal opportunities for women, we need to show them that it is possible to work in the food industry.

What was the Organizational Culture Like 10 Years Ago for Women and Working Mothers? Do You Feel That Corporates Make Efforts Towards Improving the Facilities for This Cohort?

Sarah: In Australia, we are seeing more women in managerial positions which ultimately translates to better conditions for women and working mothers. Personally, I am supported by a team of strong independent women both in India and Australia.

This, however, hasn’t always been the case and I think it is very important that you surround yourself with individuals who are prepared to support and grow with you. The most important trait we can develop is resilience and the strength to overcome the challenges we face in life and the workforce.

Do Women in Your Profession Have A Hard Time Getting Promoted? What Are Some Strategies That Can Help Women Achieve A More Prominent Role in Their Organizations?

Sarah: While increasingly women are holding a greater percentage of managerial positions in most industries today, the representation of women in top roles in the culinary industry is sadly lacking. I believe there is strength in numbers, and we need to see more females employed in commercial kitchens. This could mean corporations developing a policy to increase the male to female ratio, akin to other fields. Women are strong leaders have a lot to offer. Increasing women in commercial kitchens will rectify the imbalance in a male-dominated field and also demand the respect, pay, and roles they so rightly deserve.

As A Female Leader, What Has Been The Most Significant Barrier In your Career?

Sarah: My mental strength would be the most significant roadblock in my mind. It has been, too many times I have had knock backs simply owing to my gender. I have had to remind myself that I have earned respect and deserve it, also being a celebrity many aspirations are on you and your career choices, personal life. Well, it hasn’t been easy but it has been worth it. I owe it to my Hard work, persistence, and determination.

Musings of a boss-lady.

In its third edition, the Australian Open Chef Series, boasts an all-female line up this time around, comprising popular names such as Sarah, Australian chef Donna Hay, Tasmanian star Analiese Gregory, and Thailand’s Michelin Star chef Duangporn ‘Bo’ Songvisva. While Sarah, who is accustomed to headlining global events such as these, quirks “To be honest, I’m still pinching myself. I will make the most versatile dishes uniquely inspired by the sport”.

Who Inspired You and Why? What Are Some Traits You Think Great Leaders Possess?

Sarah: I have been hugely inspired and driven by my mother. Growing up we didn’t have a lot, not a rich family, being a single mom raising three children. And the craziest thing was that we went to one of the best schools in the city. My mom worked, day and night to be able to get to study there, she also worked at the school to reduce our school fees, aside from her regular job. I think the confidence, love, and happiness that my mom raised us to feel she was constantly driving us to be positive people to always lift other people and to work extremely hard.

There have been bad, ugly days, and times I’ve wanted to give up but my mom could see where I was heading, and she could see the drive inside me. She was constantly supporting me to do what I wanted to do. To me, the biggest thing that great leaders possess is a vision, they have people around to support, talk to and confide in with goals.

What Is the Best and Worst Decision You’ve Ever Made?

Sarah: I believe mistakes happen to teach us some lessons and if we don’t learn from them, then even bigger mistakes happen. It’s these moments that we learn the most, about our strengths.

How Do We Move Forward When Everyone Else Is Telling Us That Our Idea Won’t Work?

Sarah: I’m a very private person and if I believe in something I will work away in silence until I am ready to share and take my ideas forward. Creativity is subjective & some people find it difficult to envision an unusual concept or idea. My advice would be ‘Stop looking for people to validate your idea. Take risks, not everything will work but some will.’

How Did You Reach Your Level of Success, Given the Sector’s Gender Gap, Especially Among the Leadership?

Sarah: Hard work, Long Grueling hours and support of loved ones. There is no longevity or replacement for the toiling efforts. You can’t take your foot off the pedal. Keep pushing, keep hustling, keep believing in yourself and most importantly be happy with yourself, appreciate yourself frequently.

What Advice Would You Give to Women Trying to Break into Engineering And Technology Fields?

Sarah: Well, my Godmother was a mining engineer, can’t get a more male-dominated than that. I believe women are savvier when it comes to earning their potential. There is nothing stopping women from entering anything they set their mind to, and also deserve the worth their efforts.

Where Will We Find You on A Saturday At 10 A.M.?

Sarah: (laughs) I couldn’t even tell you that. My work is so diverse and spread all over the world. Either with family or working on some project.

What Do You Do for A Hobby? What Is Your ‘Me-Time’ Like?

Sarah: Me time at the moment is few and far between, well calls for rectification as it is taking a toll on my health. Last year I broke my ankle in two places and was rushed into surgery to have 7 screws and a plate. That didn’t slow me down, had a packed schedule and kept pushing myself. I’ve realized ‘me time’ will be healthy eating and getting back into exercise after not being able to for 6 months. Yet again, I’m feeling strong again and we often overlook the importance of a healthy body, healthy mind.

Favourite Books or Things to Do To Inspire Yourself Daily?

Sarah: I follow motivational accounts to give me little hits of inspiration daily. I feel it’s important to know that these doubts and the highs and lows are completely normal and are all part of the road to success.

Share A Little About Your Background, Where Do You Hail From? What Was The House You Grew Up In Like? Who Lived With You? What Languages Were Spoken In Your Home?

Sarah: I grew up in a small town in tropical North Queensland. I am the youngest of three children. With two older brothers, I was a bit of a tomboy and loved sport. My dad left when I was two and we were raised by my Mum who worked full time. I had a very happy childhood and was surrounded by loving grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins.

What Words Of Wisdom Did Your Mother/ Grandmothers/Aunts Share With You?

Sarah: One day, I was in a particularly low; I was going through a messy separation and financial hardship. I was having a heart to heart with my grandma who expressed right out of the blue, “You’ll be right!” Those words stuck with me forever. I am privileged to come from a long line of strong women, and I have inherited the mindset that we must push through bad times and you know what? I am alright!

(If Married) How Did You Meet Your Spouse? What Were Your Expectations About Roles And Responsibilities Within Your Marriage? Or (If You Didn’t Marry)Was This A Conscious Choice Or Did Your Life Just Take That Turn? How Do You Feel About It In Retrospect?

Sarah: I was engaged to the father of my son, but it was not a healthy relationship. I made a conscious decision to leave because I believed that Phoenix(my son) deserved to grow up in a loving environment. I’m now proud to say that it was the best decision as my son now has two happy parents showering him with love and support. During the relationship, I was a shadow of myself and I didn’t want my son to grow up seeing that. Phoenix is now proud of the strong independent woman I have become.

What, In Your Life Has Brought Satisfaction Or Fulfillment? Looking Back, What Would You Have Done Differently? And How?

Sarah: My biggest fulfillment is having my son. The moment we give love without expecting anything in return is truly the greatest lesson a human being can learn.

What Advice Would You Give To Our Next-Gen Women?

Sarah: Work hard, build resilience and learn and grow from your mistakes. Be nice to yourself & others.

What do you usually bitch about? Your Favourite Topics? And When?

Sarah: Social media and the bad influences out there that are shaping the next generation. I feel it’s extremely important that the people who gain a certain following on social media should understand the power they have and use it wisely to inspire.

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Prachi Tehlan

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