MasterChef contestant (2014), model and mother. At just the letter M, Sarah Todd belies expectations. Now, she is scouring the markets of Goa to fill the platters at her restaurant on the beach, Antares, which will open on October 17.
“During my initial visits to India, I met Ashish Kapur (of The Wine company, Dimsum Bros and Yo! China). He called me one day and said, ‘I’m standing on this gorgeous Goan beach and I think it’s a perfect fit for you. Come do this restaurant.’ I though he was crazy until I visited the space myself and fell in love,” Todd says, remarking how it takes her back home to Australia. “I grew up on beaches, with fresh seafood and tropical fruits. That’s what we’re going to do here. I tend to go to local markets to create my recipes, rather than to books. I get to do that here,” she adds. Antares will have an Asian-tempered Australian menu. It will boast a charcoal grill with dishes based on fresh market stock. A special dish will be a meat pie; specifically a seafood one — a salute to Todd’s Queensland upbringing.
She was raised by a single mother in Queensland, with the table comprising simplistic fare (“meat and three veggies”) and a panoply of desserts. “Mum had a massive sweet tooth, to the extent she was known as the Pavlova Queen. There are pictures of me as a kid, licking the spatula, my sole culinary role at the time,” says the 27-year-old, adding that, as Queenslanders, her family did love their meat pies.
An early discovery of her as a model led her to different countries and food cultures. “I would see all these people, sitting together, sharing meals and experiences and community dining to an extent I hadn’t experienced before. Then, I became a mother, and realised that, beyond nutrition, your foods have to be tasty, or else your kid will reject it. I started to experiment and create and recreate until one day I realised I was obsessed,” she says.
Following her edible epiphany, Todd put herself through Le Cordon Bleu, a premier culinary school in London. Then, she heard about MasterChef Australia. “It was our second winter in London and I asked (her partner) Devinder Garcha, ‘If I get into MasterChef, can we go home?’ Thankfully, it worked out,” she says.