Adam Liaw, Australia's MasterChef 2010 and author of Two Asian Kitchens, answers Ten Terrifying Questions

by |March 28, 2011

The Booktopia Book Guru asks

Adam Liaw

author of Two Asian Kitchens

Ten Terrifying Questions


1. To begin with why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself – where were you born? Raised? Schooled?

I was born on Penang, an island in Malaysia, and moved to Adelaide when I was very young and studied at Prince Alfred College and The University of Adelaide.

2. What did you want to be when you were twelve, eighteen and thirty? And why?

At twelve I wanted to be a doctor like my parents, at 18 I was in 3rd year of law school and wanted to be an intellectual property lawyer. At 30 I was an intellectual property lawyer and wanted to be a chef and author. At 32 now, releasing my first book is a dream come true.

3. What strongly held belief did you have at eighteen that you do not have now?

At eighteen I thought that getting old would be easy. Every year it gets harder and harder to keep the passage of time in perspective.

4. What were three big events – in the family circle or on the world stage or in your reading life, for example – you can now say, had a great effect on you and influenced you in your career path?

The first defining moment would have to be getting a scholarship to go to high school. I don’t think my parents would have been able to afford to send me to that school and if I hadn’t gone, I don’t think I would have the close friends and relationships I have today. For the second, I think moving to Japan when I was 25 really changed the way I thought about myself and how I deal with adversity and changes in my life. Of course, winning MasterChef last year would easily, and by far, be the most defining moment of my life to date.

5. Considering the innumerable electronic media avenues open to you – blogs, online newspapers, TV, radio, etc – why have you chosen to write a book? Aren’t they obsolete?

Books will never be obsolete; cookbooks especially. The amount of effort, design, testing and creativity that a whole cookbook team puts into the final product and making sure recipes work can’t be matched by other forms of media. Plus the feeling a good cookbook gives the reader is a very emotional experience.

6. Please tell us about your book…

Two Asian Kitchens is a book about simple and creative Asian cooking for Australian homes. There are so many wonderful Asian dishes that are simple to make and which we all love eating out at restaurants.

I hope that this book will help people to cook those dishes in their own homes and for their own families. I feel so privileged and lucky to have had the opportunity to write it. (Order your copy here and SAVE)

7. If your work could change one thing in this world – what would it be?

I really want people in Australia to see how easy it can be to cook Asian dishes at home. Asian cuisines for the most part are homestyle cuisines and there is really no reason why people can’t cook the food they love to eat at restaurants, at home.

8. Whom do you most admire and why?

I really admire my mother. She has devoted her life to helping orphans and disabled children in China and I have seen first hand the difference one person can make on the lives of so many. How many of us can say that they have made hundreds of lives better through our own hard work and persistent effort. It is a very admirable thing.

9. Many people set themselves very ambitious goals. What are yours?

My greatest ambition is to have a positive impact in the lives of others, no matter how small that impact may be. If I can do that by doing something I love, that would be absolutely perfect. (BBGuru: Imagine you’re giving a dinner party for me and Adam is cooking – there is room for three guests – which writers, living or dead, do you think I would want you to invite?)

10. What advice do you give aspiring writers?

The most useful piece of advice I can give is to write for your audience, not yourself. A lot of writers (myself included) seem to forget that their work is meant to be read by others. Writing can be beautiful and personal, but as long as the reader is put first and foremost the communicative element of writing will not be lost.

Adam, thank you for playing.

Follow Adam on Twitter – and visit Adam’s delicious site…

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About the Contributor

While still in his twenties, John Purcell opened a second-hand bookshop in Mosman, Sydney, in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Since then he has written, under a pseudonym, a series of very successful novels, interviewed hundreds of writers about their work, appeared at writers’ festivals, on TV (most bizarrely in comedian Luke McGregor’s documentary Luke Warm Sex) and has been featured in prominent newspapers and magazines. ​Now, as the Director of Books at, Australia’s largest online bookseller, he supports Australian writing in all its forms. He lives in Sydney with his wife, two children, three dogs, five cats, unnumbered gold fish and his overlarge book collection. His novel, The Girl on the Page, will be published by HarperCollins Australia in October, 2018.

Follow John: Twitter Website


  • Paula Stanberry

    April 3, 2011 at 2:59 am

    Adam – congrats on your book. I’m buying the book because of the work your parents do in China. I have 2 cleft daughters from China, so the work they do touches my heart.

    Best of luck!

  • Lilian Low

    April 14, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    Bought your cookbook as I was a fan of yours during Masterchef. Your book is tastefully written & I just love the oldies & newies combined into one practical cookbook.. Well done!

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