Adam Liaw is a likeable guy. He came to prominence in 2010 on the second season of Masterchef, where he took out the top honour, and then hung around on our screens to host a number of insightful and interesting food and travel shows – including Destination Flavour and Hidden Japan With Adam Liaw. He might have started out in the food industry with a reality cooking show, but he’s gone on to build a hugely respected career, publishing five cookbooks, writing about culinary stuff for newspapers, and becoming one of Australia’s most re-tweetable tweeters along the way.
Now, SBS is giving him perhaps his biggest career opportunity so far – as host of its new and ambitious nightly cooking show, The Cook Up. The show is the largest commission in the network’s history, with an epic 200 episodes ordered for production.
“The show started off by Adam and I having a chat,” SBS commissioning editor for food Josh Martin says, as Liaw gives a cooking demonstration to a bunch of journalists at the show’s launch. “We thought we’d do 10 shows, then it was 20 and 69. And like me at a breakfast buffet, we went all in.”
Each episode revolves around a certain theme – from cuisines and cooking styles to ingredients and seasons. The half-hour episodes will include regular segments such as “Food for Thought”, featuring Liaw’s best tips and tricks in the kitchen; myth-busting segment “Food for Truth”; and “Food Fight”, where guests put their culinary knowledge to the test.
Each week Liaw is joined by two guests – a mix of celebrated chefs, home cooks, actors, comedians and journalists. He starts off cooking a meal for his guests, who then follow with easy recipes of their own, plus tips for viewers to recreate the dishes at home. “Everyone cooks a dish and we talk big things, simple things ... It’s not about being an expert, it’s about cooking the dishes people love,” says Liaw as he whips up something he learnt on the show from sisters Sharon and Carol Salloum of Sydney restaurant Almond Bar.
Other top chefs joining him in the kitchen include Giovanni Pilu, of Pilu at Freshwater and Pilu Baretto; Fred’s head chef and cookbook author Danielle Alvarez; acclaimed chef Mitch Orr, previously of Cicciabella and Acme; restaurateur-turned-farmer Palisa Anderson; Marque founder and Netflix star Mark Best; and Masterchef judge Jock Zonfrillo.
He’ll also be joined by media personalities, such as fellow SBS star Silvia Colloca, cake queen Katherine Sabbath, podcast host Marc Fennell, comedian Joel Creasey, Jimmy Barnes, Myf Warhurst, Yumi Stynes and writer Benjamin Law – just to name a few.
The Cook Up premieres on SBS Food tonight, April 19, and will run weeknights at 7pm and again at 10pm. Episodes will also be available to stream on SBS On Demand.