Celebrity chef uses cuisine to showcase culture
Celebrity chef Adam Liaw, host of Destination Flavour Singapore, grew up eating chicken rice and kaya toast
Culture and food often complement each other, and Sydney-based celebrity chef Adam Liaw aims to connect the two in his TV series, Destination Flavour.
The Republic's food is the focus in the fifth season of the culinary series, Destination Flavour Singapore.
It premieres on June 1 on FYI Asia (StarHub TV Channel 404) at 8pm.
It will then air every Thursday at 8pm.
The nine-episode series will feature prominent local dishes such as home-cooked Hainanese chicken rice and beef rendang; chefs, from Violet Oon to Janice Wong; and dining locations such as 328 Katong Laksa and Rolina.
Liaw, who won the second season of MasterChef Australia in 2010, has a connection with Singapore.
The 38-year-old was born in Penang to a Malaysian father and Singapore-born mother. He has called Australia home since he was three.
Liaw said he grew up eating Singaporean food.
"Singaporean cuisine was pretty much all I ate," the former lawyer told The New Paper over the phone from Sydney.
"When you leave a place, food tends to be the one thing that really travels with you. We all lost our accents and such, but we still grew up eating chicken rice and kaya toast."
Liaw also learnt a lot about his ancestry while filming Destination Flavour Singapore.
He got a better understanding of his late maternal grandfather, who was interned at Changi Prison during World War II.
Said Liaw: "He's not someone I ever knew or met, but through seeing the national archives, I guess I know more about his life which helped me to understand my mother's life a lot more.
"I think it made us a lot closer."
The TV series allowed him to showcase a country's culture through food.
Said Liaw: "I think there has always been this extremely strong connection between food and travelling.
"Food tends to be... something we have the strongest emotional connection to when we are in unfamiliar surroundings."
He added: "It may not be the most delicious or famous thing that you have ever eaten, but the places we visit on the show are always a gateway to explaining it, and that's what makes our show so unique."
Destination Flavour has led Liaw to places such as Scandinavia and Japan, which taught him a great deal as a chef.
Every country he went to changed the way he cooked as he picked up new ideas.
He said it could be as simple as the Swedish farmer who told him that a roast is not considered one without gravy. So now, he often includes gravy whenever he is making a roast.
"It's not so much like putting this or that in the pan, but the way of thinking about food.
"We choose cultural aspects of the food, how it can make our food taste better and how you can build a better relationship around it," said Liaw.