Australia strengthens ties with PH through food, brings culinary star and MasterChef winner in Manila

His Excellency Steve J. Robinson, Australian Ambassador to the Philippines and Adam Liaw, Australian TV presenter, author and MasterChef Australia winner.

By Caesar Vallejos
OPEN FOR BUSINESS, Eagle News Service

Building stronger relationships with ASEAN nations including the Philippines, “Australia now 2019”, a program that celebrates Australian innovation and creativity in Asia, brings Taste of Australia with Adam Liaw in Manila at the Greenbelt 3 Park on April 27, 2019.

The Australian Embassy in the Philippines organized the festival showcasing culinary culture and the best Australian products available in the Philippines, and highlighted by the talk and cooking demonstration of Adam Liaw, Australian TV presenter, author and Masterchef Australia winner.

‘Food doesn’t lie’

In an exclusive media meet and greet session at the Hilton Manila last April 24, Adam Liaw said, “food is the best way to explain a culture. Food doesn’t lie. Food is a very accurate presentation of what life is like.”

“Food is constant. What comprises those three meals tells you so much about politics, geography, climate and tells you about how much time you have in a day and how much money you have to spend in the supermarket and what kinds of things are being produced,” the host of the award-winning SBS television series Destination Flavour explained.

Liaw is not inclined on producing ‘’the classic Australian dishes’’ but on “approachable and family-friendly recipes influenced by his global travels, and focused on the casual simplicity of contemporary Australian home cooking.”

“The connection between the Filipino palate and the Australian palate is the focus on home-cooking,” Adam said.  He added that the food that Filipinos take which tells of the history of their lives is always their family food.

“The people who are sharing together – that’s what Australians think about food as well.  The importance that the people in the Philippines put on family and family food is also what people in Australia put emphasis on when it comes to food,” the MasterChef winner said.

“I love Filipino food.  It is such an intensely regional thing,” Liaw said, comparing Filipino dishes with other countries where the cuisine in their various areas tastes pretty much the same.

The great thing about Filipino cuisine is its diversity across our regions unlike other culture’s ‘not quite delineated’, and  ‘one-dimensional’ character.  “The more cultural exchanges between the Philippines and Australia, the more people will understand that,” he said.

Underrated dish

A writer and columnist for Nine/Fairfax ‘Sunday Life’, Adam Liaw’s favorite dish from the Philippine cuisine “is the one that I cook awful lot at home:  Bicol Express.”

Australia’s culinary star focuses on the creation of simple, delicious meals to share with family and friends.

He picked it because “Australians love to cook food that’s easy.  I guess the one thing that’s quite difficult to find in Australia is the shrimp paste.”

“Bicol Express is the type of food that Australians like: there’s a little bit heat to it, it could be hot, or not-so-hot depending on the creaminess of the coconut and shrimp paste.  I think it is a very underrated dish,” Liaw said.

Use food as a tool

“Food is a tool in many respects, a tool to make your life easy and even more pleasant,” he said. In the development of food concepts, Liaw advised food entrepreneurs in the Philippines to consider “the people who will be the recipients of it, the customers, and try to understand what they need.”

“When I write recipes, I think first about what people want about recipes. Is it something that they are familiar with that they can do it next time, or can it make it cheaper for them or can it make it easier for them? That’s the kind of innovation that I find exciting, something that helps people,” Liaw said.

He encouraged people to “use food as a tool to help people whether that’s through innovation or entrepreneurship. “Even just writing a nice recipe that someone might cook for dinner that night, that’s a really good thing,” he said. Liaw writes around 700 recipes a year.

Food relationship

The Philippines-Australia diplomatic relationship is coming up to its 75th anniversary.

However, Australian Ambassador Steve J. Robinson said that, “the relationship goes much, much further than that.  The Philippines relationship with Australia comes down to food back in the 1800s when sugar and coffee from the Philippines were exported down to Australia and sold in Queensland and New Southwales in the early 1900s.”

“Whether it be food, coffee, or wine, we’re with you in spirit in terms of that love for food,” Ambassador Robinson said as he opened the cooking demonstration of Adam Liaw.

Taste of Australia with Adam Liaw. Photo shows his cooking demonstration attended by media and select audiences.

“We’ve got over 300,000 Filipinos down in Australia, the 5th largest grouping in the country.  The Filipinos “blend their cooking style with the fresh ingredients from Australia and that brings our countries even closer together,” the Ambassador said.

Australia is the number one importer of beef and lamb and second largest importer of wine in the Philippines.


Aside from the outdoor festival at Greenbelt 3 Park on April 27, young Filipino chefs will also compete at the Taste of Australia Cook-Off with Adam Liaw as one of the judges. He will be joined in the panel by Filipino celebrity chef JP Anglo and celebrated restaurateur Chef Jessi Sincioco.

The festival also features an outdoor market where visitors can shop and sample Australian food and drinks, with a chance to win Australian products.

Taste of Australia will be capped off by a free concert featuring Nights of Rizal.