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There needs to be a big push for women in the food industry: Sarah Todd



Once a contestant on Masterchef Australia, Sarah Todd won billions of hearts in India when she cooked aloo gobhi on the show and won praises for the same. Sarah’s journey with the country and Indian food continued post the show as she fell in love with the country and opened two restaurants — one in north Goa and one in Mumbai. In a quick chat with us, Sarah talks about her tryst with India, how Indian flood has influenced her own style of cooking and why the food and hospitality industry needs more women to step up…
You’ve made India your home now. What made you stay back?
The biggest thing about India is that it is such an inspiring market and people here are so passionate about food. Ever since I stepped foot into the country, I fell in love with it. When I decided to open my first restaurant, it was such a huge opportunity for me. Every day when I walk into the restaurant, I’m so proud and happy to see it. Eventually, I do want to go to Australia and open a restaurant there as well but I’ll always spend my time between India and Australia.

How has Indian cuisine influenced your own cooking style?
Growing up in Australia, the cuisine is quite plain. When it comes to creating dishes for a menu in a restaurant, I’ve tried to incorporate the elements from the land. Ultimately, a cuisine revolves around the produce, where you’re setting up the restaurant and that’s what goes onto your menu. You can’t write a menu in Australia and be able to execute that in India, because the produce is different. So, when I was developing the menu in Goa, there’s a lot of sea food influence, the vinegars, the local spices, there’s always going to be a little bit of Indian influence.

What kind of challenges do you face today, given you’ve been in India for a while?
There are so many challenges in every country. After I heard the news of Anthony Bourdain passing away, it made me think about it. It’s very sad. As a chef, we are always striving to achieve something and to be better and do something else. And I realized, no matter how challenges there are, you need to be happy and content with where you are. I’m just grateful for the opportunities that I have. It’s about appreciating what we have each day.

Do you think women in the food and hospitality industry are breaking the glass ceiling?
Yes, they are but there’s still a long way to go. There are very limited women in the industry and one in the transition period, basically going from nothing to having an equal workforce, is the toughest barrier to break. There are so many things that many the workplace difficult for women. I think there needs to be a big push for females, especially through a lot of food festivals.

Do you think Indians are open to experimenting and trying out other cuisines?

Absolutely. Three years back, I noticed such huge change in customers and how they were willing to try out new things. In the beginning if there were anything unfamiliar on the menu, people weren’t willing to try it. But now, they are loving it and are willing to try out new things.

One Indian dish you would like to master?

It’s got to be the dosa. It’s a tough one, because I’ve tried to make the batter in Australia, but it’s something about the humidity because the fermenting process is not the same.

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