You don’t need to be a cooking freak or food expert to know who Sarah Todd is. After shooting into the limelight with MasterChef Australia in 2014, she returned to the 14th season of the cooking show as a celebrity contender. In these years not only did she cement her name in the cooking world, but the Australian chef also popularized Indian food in her country and on the show. She recently put our favorite Bhel Puri on the global map when she chose to make it from scratch in MasterChef 14. Earlier, her de ella ‘aloo gobi’ de ella had created a lot of noise on the show and garnered her huge fan following here .
In a candid chat with News18.com, Sarah, who has toured 17 Indian cities, opened up about her love for the country and her love for cooking.
From a contestant on MasterChef to a celebrity contender, how has your journey been on the show?
I think that going back into MasterChef this time was a very different experience. I was going back with a lot more tools in my backpack. So I was excited to be able to go through the challenges and be able to experiment with cooking. I think the first time I was in Master Chef, I was very young and I hadn’t really been cooking at that level for very long. So, it was a very different experience this time and to be able to experiment was a really fun thing.
What made you go back to this season?
I feel like it was the universe, to be honest, telling me to go back. It was the middle of lockdowns and we’d been seven months in full lockdown in Melbourne. I wasn’t able to travel back and forth to India. Having gotten the call, in the beginning, I definitely said not to go back. It took some convincing, but I was excited to get back into the kitchen and just experiment. I was also excited to be able to showcase these Indian dishes. In Australia, we haven’t really been exposed to such regional dishes. I was looking forward to being able to show a different side. Having my half-Indian son, it felt like a bit of responsibility of mine to be able to understand his culture and know the cuisine. And I was really excited to share that on MasterChef.
How has your cooking style been influenced by Indian cuisine?
Honestly, I’ve fallen in love with Indian cuisine. I just love the flavors and the diversity in the cuisine. For me, it was a bit of a journey throughout the Master Chef kitchen because I got to a point where I started experimenting with the French techniques and the Indian flavors and really felt like I got to that point in my cooking style where I was really cooking for me and my style. And I think that was a really exciting thing to learn throughout the journey.
How much is Indian food popular in Australia?
In Australia, it’s a melting pot of different cuisines and it’s incredible like that but I feel Indian cuisine is only now hitting its stride in Australia and we’re starting to get a lot more of these dishes from all over India. I think in the early days it was your classic butter chicken and dishes like that. So it’s a really exciting time in Australia right now with Indian cuisine, and it’s definitely growing.
The Bhel Puri that you made in MasterChef made a lot of noise. What made you decide that you’re going to make that?
It was this crazy challenge in MasterChef where it was 10 minutes to make a dish. And my mind instantly went to the street foods of India. I remember standing on the beach in Mumbai eating bhelpuri for the first time and I was just blown away by the amount of flavor that was packed into this dish in front of my eyes. So for me, it was it. I knew that this dish was going to be something that the judges would love. And in the MasterChef kitchen, it is so much pressure. 10 minutes really is probably only three or four minutes of actually cooking because you’ve got the equipment on one side, you’ve got the pantry on the other and cameras in your face, and producers asking you questions. I think this was the best choice for that challenge.
A lot of fusion restaurants are coming up these days. Do you think that fusion restaurant as concept work, especially in a country like India that already has such a diverse cuisine?
I really don’t like using the word fusion so much anymore. In Australia, we’re such a diverse country and there are so many influences coming into all of the restaurants. And we’re calling it Australian restaurants there. So I think it’s so great to bring flavors together and create really unique dishes.
After MasterChef, what’s next for you?
I just want to keep cooking and I have my goal of opening a new restaurant. I want to bring those flavors together that I love with the French techniques and bring in all the beautiful flavors of India. What I love the most is just cooking for people and getting those instant reactions.
Anything you would like to say to your Indian fans?
I just want to say thank you to everyone for supporting me through this experience. I was quite nervous going into MasterChef Australia and cooking so many Indian dishes and doing them justice. I’m really thankful that I’ve gotten a lot of support along the way. And yeah, I’m just so happy to be back in India.
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