Chef, restaurateur, TV host, author and model: Sarah Todd’s array of skills makes her creative ease all the more extraordinary. With so much success to date, anyone would think the Melbourne MasterChef favourite had achieved enough to fill a lifetime. But ask about her next exciting plan and you’ll catch a glimpse of her deep ambition, which was evident in her earliest years.
“Growing up, I had two main career dreams: racing cars and working in the health industry,” she says. “I was always drawn to the thrill of speed and competition, and I loved the idea of being behind the wheel of a powerful vehicle. With two older brothers passionate about cars, it was only natural this rubbed off. At the same time, I was also very interested in health and wellness, and I spent a lot of time learning about nutrition, exercise, and the human body.”
Underpinning Sarah’s early fascinations was a passion for creativity, something that drove her then and still drives her today.
“I always came up with new ideas and projects and loved bringing something new into the world, whether it was an invention, a piece of art, or a design concept. And while my specific career goals may have shifted over the years, this passion for creativity has remained a constant source of inspiration.”
“I always came up with new ideas and projects and loved bringing something new into the world, whether it was an invention, a piece of art, or a design concept. And while my specific career goals may have shifted over the years, this passion for creativity has remained a constant source of inspiration.” Sarah Todd: Chef, Restaurateur and Author
Drawing on her creative powers has been a constant for Sarah. Growing up in the small rural town of Walkerston in Queensland necessitated it. Kids raised in country Australia learn to create their own fun. But an unexpected visitor to her home town led her to discover that adding spark to creative fuel could propel her to accomplish anything.
“When I was 12, I met the strongest woman in the world,” she says. “She wrote an inspirational quote in my diary: You can achieve great things if you set your mind to it. Not only was she physically strong, but she also had a strong sense of purpose and determination. She showed me that no matter where you come from or your background, you can achieve great things if you set your mind to it.”
The encounter was a catalyst in Sarah’s life. Drawing on her love of cooking and her family’s support, along with her drive to seek new adventures, her trajectory quickly emerged.
"She showed me that no matter where you come from or your background, you can achieve great things if you set your mind to it.” Sarah Todd: Chef, Restaurateur and Author
“My passion for cooking drove me to dedicate my life to creating with food. It all started during my early years as a model, where I was fortunate enough to travel the world and immerse myself in different cultures. These experiences gave me a deep appreciation for diverse cuisines and a desire to create my unique culinary creations.
“But it was the birth of my son at age 24 that truly flamed my passion for cooking. I became an obsessive home cook, experimenting with new recipes and creating three-course meals daily. When we moved to London to live with my son's Punjabi grandparents, I was exposed to a new world of Indian cuisine, opening my eyes to the beauty of combining different flavours and spices.”
It led Sarah to a turning point on the road to reaching her culinary dreams.
“I enrolled in Le Cordon Bleu and dedicated myself to becoming a chef,” she says. “It was a daunting challenge, but I was determined to succeed.”
It was a disciplined and clever investment in craftsmanship. Her studies honed her traditional cooking skills, which evolved through extensive travels across India, where she developed her unique cooking style.
“Dreams can be compelling catalysts for action." Sarah Todd: Chef, Restaurateur and Author
In 2014 she returned to Australia and earned a place as a contestant on the top-rating competitive cooking reality TV program MasterChef. Sarah springboarded from her top-10 finish into one of her dream ventures, opening her first restaurant in Goa, India, in the same year. This then led to My Restaurant India, a six-part TV series broadcast in over 150 countries.
Sarah opened her second restaurant, The Wine Rack, in 2018, this time in Mumbai. It resulted in her successor TV series My Second Restaurant in India.
In 2022 she co-hosted the popular TV series Farm to Fork and returned to the MasterChef kitchen for season 14, taking out the runner-up spot in a tightly fought contest amongst new and returning contestants.
With nine TV shows, two cookbooks, two restaurants and an array of events in her culinary resume, Sarah doesn’t get much down-time these days. During a rare break at Alba Thermal Springs she describes her last decade as a whirlwind.
“A new fizz of motivation comes over me when I look back at the last ten years,” she says smiling, as she walks towards the Porsche Taycan GTS. “There is still so much to achieve.”
Her rise in the culinary world has been steep, due in part to choosing the more difficult roads to the top. It’s the route usually taken by ambitious dreamers seeking to reach the peak of their craft. As well as ensuring regular successes, her chosen road has resulted in her collaborating with some of the world’s leading chefs, including Heston Blumenthal and Marco Pierre White.
But it’s Sarah’s latest challenge that has her motivated more than ever, and for special reasons. Her newest restaurant is focussed on giving to society and supporting women in business.
“Every woman deserves the opportunity to learn new skills and create an industry for herself. I want to empower these women by providing them with the necessary resources, training, and education to start their own businesses so they can build a sustainable future for themselves and their families.”
Her bold venture has a distinctly Porsche flavour. When company founder Ferdinand Porsche couldn’t find the sports car of his dreams he decided to build it himself, and Sarah Todd is taking the same approach.
“I’m committed to creating opportunities for these women and supporting them in every way possible.”
Unplugging her Taycan GTS from its Porsche Destination Charger, Sarah reaffirms her direction before driving out to the Mornington Peninsula coast.
“I have specific values and principles guiding me in my life and career,” she says. “I am passionate about sustainability and supporting local communities and women in business.
Sliding behind the wheel, her words are baked in wisdom.
“Dreams can be compelling catalysts for action,” she says, likening them to the powerful vehicles she wanted to drive all those years ago. “The strongest woman in the world knew this, and so did Ferdinand Porsche.”
Visit sarahtodd.com.au to discover more about Sarah Todd.
Images: Frank Yang