Home Tours

At home with Adam Liaw

This family home is a visual summary of Adam's great loves: cooking, family and travel.
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Warm and welcoming, understated and charming. If, as they say, a home reflects the people who live in it, there’s surely no better example than that of lawyer-turned-chef, MasterChef winner, author, TV presenter and now podcast host Adam Liaw. For Adam’s family, their Sydney home, and the pieces that dwell in it, are a true reflection of their personalities and the way they love to live. In addition to their travels together, Adam cooks around the world for television series Destination Flavour, while his wife, Asami, is back and forth between here and her native Japan with the couple’s two adorable children, Christopher and Anna.

Adam Liaw home entrance hall
Adam’s home is a visual summary of his great loves: cooking, family and travel. The latter is evident in a collection of pieces, including this antique Chinese console table and artworks that he and wife Asami – who was born in Japan – have picked up during their travels. Adam’s insatiable passion for globe-trotting is seen in his latest book, Destination Flavour: People And Places, as well as collected objects and artworks from Cuba, China and India. (Credit: Chris Warnes)

Yet all this travelling – and exposure to gorgeous pieces that tap into the couple’s beautifully understated aesthetic – has created a bit of decorating negotiating. “Asami and I have a deal,” explains Adam. “Pretty much the equivalent volume of whatever I bring back is what I need to throw out. There’s lots of nice stuff that we bring back from overseas – and lots of crappy old stuff that I collected beforehand!” HB sat down for a chat with Adam to discover a bit about his carefully curated Sydney home.

After a decade in this beautiful home, Adam and Asami’s recent purchase of a renovated Victorian home in Roseville for $5.26 million means that the couple have listed this property for sale.

Their new five-bedroom home has a contemporary extension at the rear, with open plan living areas including a luxurious entertainer’s kitchen fitted with high-end kitchen appliances, landscaped gardens and a heated swimming pool.

Celebrity chef Adam Liaw at home with daughter Anna
Adam pictured on the deck of his family home with Christopher and Anna. (Credit: Chris Warnes)

What attracted you to this home?

“In Japan, the value of property is very, very closely related to proximity to the train station. We literally walk five minutes to the train station from here.”

Adam Liaw home kitchen
The new kitchen features a modular stove to allow Adam to enjoy the best of both induction and gas, plus an eat-in dining table, that mirrors the home’s beautifully warm aesthetic. (Credit: Chris Warnes)
The modern extension to the Federation home is one of the elements that attracted Adam and Asami to the home. “I like that we can have that mixture of the old and the new,” says Adam. “It’s a very Australian formula; you have your Federation house at the front, then you knock out the back for a big open-plan area.”
By shortening the kitchen island, Adam and Asami made room for a dining table at the end, where Adam and Anna get creative. A far more inclusive set-up, this lets the family sit and talk while Adam cooks. The table itself is a thing of beauty – a solid slab of timber with ‘live’ edges and an uneven finish that offers an organic softness to contrast with the hard surfaces of the kitchen.

What’s your favourite part of your home?

“The tatami room. It’s such a versatile thing. It can function as a dining room, storage, or a lounge for just lying around. It’s multipurpose enough to use regularly. These days a space in your house that only gets used on special occasions seems a bit old-fashioned.”

The tatami room of Masterchef winner Adam Liaw featuring sumo artwork
The tatami room is Adam’s favourite space (Credit: Chris Warnes)

“Every Japanese person can sit cross-legged for a very long time, but for most Australians, it’s a bit of a challenge – I can’t do it either,” says Adam with a laugh. “So we designed this as a ‘horigotatsu’. Instead of sitting right on the ground, the tatami is an entire raised platform around the room, with a hole under the table for your legs. It’s a lot more comfortable and the posture is just like sitting in a chair. Raising the platform gives us lots of storage, as well.”

Adam Liaw home tatami room
A custom-made tatami room (named for the uniformly sized mats, by which all Japanese rooms are measured) was always on the wish list for Adam and Asami – albeit an Australian version of the more traditional design. (Credit: Chris Warnes)

The old kitchen just had to go. Why was this?

“It wasn’t a bad kitchen, it just wasn’t exactly the way I like it – I’m a bit particular with that kind of thing!” With doubleheight ceiling, beautiful finishes and carefully selected features, the kitchen, naturally, lies at the heart of the home.

Adam Liaw home sake barrel
(Credit: Chris Warnes)

In one corner sits the sake barrel from their wedding, which they often repurpose as an ice bucket. “Instead of cutting a cake, a Japanese wedding has a ceremony called ‘kagami biraki,’ which is where a barrel of sake is smashed open with a wooden mallet,” explains Adam. “The barrel itself was a gift from the sake brewery in my wife’s home state of Ishikawa, as they are friends of our family.”

Are there any rules in your home?

“We don’t like clutter, but I guess most travellers’ houses end up being very cluttered because you’re always inspired to bring so much back.”

Masterchef winner Adam Liaw in his home kitchen with daughter Anna
Anna takes a seat at the dining table with dad, Adam. For a similar chair, try the ‘Fast Table Chair’ in Black from Amazon. (Credit: Chris Warnes)

How do your curate your many travel mementos?

“Asami and I have a ‘one in, one out’ policy. We can bring back whatever we like from our travels, but it needs to replace something we already have of equivalent size. It helps reduce our clutter, but also avoids impulse buys because it means we have to love something enough to think about what at home we’d need to get rid of.”

Adam Liaw home living room
Christopher makes the most of the living room. (Credit: Chris Warnes)

Living room 

The couple knocked out a false wall in the original kitchen and dining area to create a much-loved and used open-plan living space, which is enjoyed by all the family. During the renovations, the couple also included new built-in bookshelves made from Tasmanian oak. “I’m a firm believer that every house has to have a nice bookshelf,” says Adam, adding the kids are far more likely to pick up a book with such easy access.

How would you describe your home’s style?

“There are a couple of Japanese details that have been incorporated, but it’s still an Australian house for an Australian family.”

Adam’s podcast

Ever on the lookout for more ways to fall in love with food, Adam launched a podcast called How Taste Changed the World. Designed to delve into the history of our five tastes – sweet, bitter, salty, sour and umami, Adam speaks to chefs and scientists the world over who are passionate about food, where it comes from and where it can take us. Check it out here.

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