Cooking advocate, adventurous foodie

Cooking advocate, adventurous foodie
PHOTO: Cooking advocate, adventurous foodie

Since winning MasterChef Australia Season 2 in 2010, life has changed drastically for lawyer-turned-chef Adam Liaw.

Back then, joining the reality cooking competition was a way for him to "kill time".

Not only did he win, but he has also ended up on TV shows and became a cookbook author.

The 36-year-old Sydney-based host of Destination Flavour was in town last week in collaboration with Mission Foods, known for its wraps and flatbreads.

He stopped at media outlets and conducted a masterclass at ToTT cooking studio to "show off the versatility of the wraps".

Two of his creations - beef bulgogi with kimchi wrap and roast carrot hummus with avocado - are among more than 30 recipes he has prepared for the company.

Liaw, who was born in Penang to an English-Singaporean mother and Hainanese-Chinese father, is in Malaysia for Mission Foods as well, and the company will operate a food truck for a year, featuring food made from his recipes.

Coming up with recipes has become his forte. He writes them for the Sydney Morning Herald. He also writes articles for The Wall Street Journal and The Guardian.

An advocate of home cooking, his fourth cookbook, Adam Liaw's Asian Cookery School, which will hit bookstores soon, revolves around Asian cuisine basics.

Liaw says: "People get stuck in their own cuisine. For example, Singapore is multicultural, but people mainly cook Chinese and Malay. What about learning Japanese or Korean food?"

He also encourages home cooks to "stick to how your mother and grandmother taught you how to cook", instead of taking short cuts. "It is as simple as pouring hot pasta through a colander. But people choose not to use the colander and tip the pot to remove the water instead. That takes a lot longer and you know what happens if you're not careful," he says.

He emphasises the need to stock the kitchen with basic ingredients, and in his own, he has olive, peanut and vegetable oils, as well as two kinds of salt - one to add to boiling water for pasta and the other for seasoning.

The avid cook also whips up meals three times a day for his 11/2-year-old son Christopher and Japanese wife Asami, 35, formerly a producer at The Walt Disney Company.

Besides eating at home, he is also an adventurous foodie. For a TV series filmed in Scandinavia, he ate everything from reindeer meat to seal carpaccio, which he says tastes like "a cross between beef and tuna".

During his time in Singapore, he has had kaya toast, nasi padang, Teochew braised goose and fishball noodles, and he posted photos of them on his Instagram account (@liawadam).

Although he eats almost everything, he does not fancy chocolate in any form.

Laughing, he says: "If it's in a set menu, I might have a few bites. I would also use it in cooking, but I don't like the taste. I couldn't understand it as a kid."

Another project close to his heart is his role as Unicef Australia's National Ambassador For Nutrition, where he is involved in fund-raising opportunities for child nutrition.

He says: "In Africa, it's about the kids getting adequate nutrition. In China, it's about preventing obesity. Back in Australia, we are concerned about the health of those in rural communities and for those in urban areas to be aware of having a balanced diet."

With all these projects under his belt, Liaw has no plans to open a restaurant any time soon, despite early reports after his MasterChef win that he was setting up a Japanese izakaya.

Shaking his head and chuckling, he says: "It's always one of those things I'll get to at some point. But I'm not even in my hometown for two weeks at a time, so opening a restaurant is still a dream. It's not something I feel the urge to rush into. But, one day I will."

Indeed, the frequent flier barely has time to see his son.

"He points me out on TV, books, magazines, and when he sees airplanes, which means I travel too much. It makes me sad."

This article was first published on June 1, 2015.
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