Culture Street

Books

Adam Liaw on winning MasterChef

On December 2, 2014

Adam Liaw is an Australian MasterChef winner, author and UNICEF Australia's National Ambassador for Nutrition. A former lawyer, Adam worked in the corporate world for more than a decade and is acutely aware of the challenges facing the working cook. His best-selling debut cookbook, Two Asian Kitchens, and its follow up, Asian After Work, were bestsellers. A regular contributor to numerous publications including The Sydney Morning Herald, Feast magazine and The Wall Street Journal's Scene Asia, Adam also hosts the popular SBS television food and travel series Destination Flavour and Destination Flavour: Japan. He lives with his family in Sydney, Australia. His latest book Adam's Big Pot has just been released.

How did winning MasterChef Australia change your life?
I donít think winning MasterChef Australia changed my life as much as just taking part in it did. It was such a wonderful experience. I learned a lot both about cooking and about myself, and I think it was that experience that led me into this whole new direction Iím heading in now.

What can you tell us about the new season of Destination Flavour?
Itís my fourth season of Destination Flavour now and I wanted to do something really different. Weíll be filming the whole series over in Scandinavia, really exploring this phenomenon of new Nordic cuisine that seems to have taken over the food world today. Iím really excited and I think itís going to be fantastic.

You have just arrived back from Myanmar as a UNICEF Australia ambassador. What is it that drew you to take on this role for UNICEF?
Iíve been involved with childrenís organisations for most of my life. My mother has been running care facilities for abandoned and disabled children in China for more than 20 years. I have huge respect and admiration for what UNICEF does and I really think that the work we do makes a difference to the lives of children all over the world.

Your latest book is all about family meals. What are the key ingredients to an easy family meal?
The most important thing about family cooking is to make it an expression of generosity and love. If youíre showing your kids that feeding them is a chore, or that watching an extra 20 minutes of TV and buying in fast food is more important than giving them a good, healthy meal then I think thatís the wrong message. You donít have to be an expert to be able to teach your kids how to have a good relationship with food that will last their whole lives.

How has your Asian heritage inspired your cooking?
Iíve grown up around Asian food and the best thing about Asian cooking is that it teaches you that food is simple. Most Asian dishes arenít fancy chef stuff, theyíre healthy and delicious foods that are just simple, convenient and fast to cook. I post a lot of the food I have for dinner on Instagram and people think it takes a long time, but I have dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes almost every night of the week.

What will you be eating on Christmas Day?
This year I think Iíll start with a cataplana. Itís a Portuguese pot and also the name of the dish thatís cooked in it. I have a giant copper one I bought in Portugal this year and so Iíll put together a big pepper and tomato based stew of lobster, prawns, crab mussels and LinguiÁa sausage. Thereíll probably a ham as well Ė my favourite glaze is pineapple, brandy and seeded mustard, and definitely a pavlova for dessert, although this year Iím doing a version that is stuffed with Christmas cake ice cream, a bit like a Bombe Alaska.

Adamís Big Pot by Adam Liaw is published by Hachette Australia, RRP $39.99, available now.

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