Adam Liaw is one of the busiest people in Australia. He hosts SBS television show The Cook Up, writes recipes for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, has published eight cookbooks (including his latest 7 Days of Dinner) and develops anywhere between 600 and 800 recipes per year. It’s a lot.

This week on our podcast Around Town, Liaw joined us to chat about his cooking ethos, from it being an “incredibly simple skill” if you have the confidence to his love for seasonal produce. He also talks about creating recipes that are as easy as possible for home cooks and setting challenges for himself in the kitchen (like timing himself).

Liaw dives into the marked difference between the Australian and US food industries and shares some of his controversial cooking takes (including that sausage sizzle hack).

Never miss a Sydney moment. Make sure you're subscribed to our newsletter today.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

On testing recipes

The more times I need to test a recipe, the worse that recipe is. I might get the right result for me and I can make it again, but once it gets into someone else’s kitchen, they will make those same mistakes. I was talking to Yotam Ottolenghi about this; he writes recipes like he’s got a sniper rifle and I write them like I’ve got a shotgun. He wants to hit that target right in the middle every time but I just want to make sure that anyone who picks up the recipe can just blast away and get the right result.

On the impact of the processed food industry

I dislike the way that political lobbying and the processed food industry has stripped away so many of these really wonderful things about food and food culture … We’ve kind of been told that it’s a good thing for us to be able to buy every ingredient at every possible time and ship it from around the world so that you never have to, for a moment, decide that you can’t get asparagus when you want to have it immediately. That’s not for us, that’s for the supermarkets’ benefit.

Traditional foods and traditional ways of cooking are tried and true and they’ve been cooked for thousands of years and generations. It’s only over this incredibly short period of time, from the 1960s onwards, that we’ve started to throw away all of these important truths that humankind has known about food for a very long time, in favour of the over-commercialisation of the way that we choose to cook and eat.

On his controversial sausage sizzle hack

Just for listeners’ clarity, the idea was you go to a Baker’s Delight, you get a half loaf of bread, not a full loaf. And then you get them to put it through the slicing machine lengthways rather than sideways. So you get these rectangular slices of bread that are the length of a half a loaf of bread [and] you don’t have sausage overhang. Honestly, I was having a barbeque that day and I was like, what if they did this for me. It worked pretty well. Some people didn’t like changing it up and some people think the overhanging sausage off the ends of the bread is the best part. I can get behind that too, I was just providing an option.