AFTER rocketing to fame on MasterChef in 2014 and going on to open three restaurants in India, Queenslander Sarah Todd is returning to her home state where she hopes to launch her first Australian eatery.

The chef and restaurateur had been living in India for the past six years establishing a trio of eateries with her own unique take on the local cuisine until COVID forced her to return to Australia last year. She spent lockdown in Melbourne, running her Indian restaurants via online video and WhatsApp chats, but now is desperate to return to the kitchen and thinks Brisbane could be just the spot to make her Aussie debut.

“The last time I was in Queensland I did the restaurant hopping thing and I was just blown away with the restaurant scene – it’s just booming in Brisbane and the Gold Coast,” she said.

“[Brisbane has] got that relaxed dining vibe and I love that style of eating and it’s a lot more fun and it’s still amazing quality. I am testing the waters of where I want to open my restaurant in Australia so we’ll see how it goes.”

The foodie, who was born and raised in Walkerston, near Mackay, said wherever she decided to open she would bring her distinct contemporary take on regional Indian fare.

“[Because of my background] I look at the dishes with fresh eyes. I’m borrowing different flavours from India and incorporating it into my Aussie upbringing,” she said.

“I’ve been respecting the cuisine but still experimenting with new dishes.”

Tandoori barbecue prawns from Sarah Todd's cookbook My Indian Kitchen.

Tandoori barbecue prawns from Sarah Todd’s cookbook My Indian Kitchen.

She said her Australian restaurant would be about harnessing local ingredients and using them to produce a lighter take on the food most Aussies consider to be Indian. Think Fraser Isle spanner crab panipuri or South Indian madras curry with crisp skin coral trout.

While she tries to find the right site for her new restaurant, which she hopes to open next summer, Ms Todd will be out on the road promoting her new cookbook, My Indian Kitchen, filled with fast, fresh and healthy recipe ideas.

“Not everyone has time to be in the kitchen all day mixing spices so it’s not necessarily authentic because I wanted quick 20-minute cooking,” she said. “I wanted to give people an easier way of creating these amazing Indian dishes in a time efficient way.”





Originally published as MasterChef star eyes off Brisbane for new restaurant