I know I say it every year, but it just seems to fly by, doesn’t it? But as surely as 2012 followed 2011, we are now at the end of 2013 and what a year it’s been. Here’s a really quick snapshot of what I’ve been doing for the past 12 months.
I wrote. And then I wrote some more.
I wrote so much this year I literally broke my keyboard. My Wall Street Journal – Scene Asia column, Around the Table, continued to get a great response. A few of my pieces were even in their top food stories for 2013. I wrote a bunch of stuff for The Sydney Morning Herald, Good Food, The Australian and Feast Magazine. I was published in an anthology of feminist literature by Penguin, which was quite unexpected but also very nice.
But the biggest thing I wrote this year was my second book, Asian After Work. I’m immensely proud of it, and thank you so much for all the photos and comments you’ve sent through to me this year. There’s really nothing better as an author seeing a dish go from an idea in your head to becoming a regular fixture on someone’s family dinner table. It’s humbling and I am grateful to you all for giving me that experience.
Asian After Work has only been in the shops for a couple of months but sales have been fantastic! We’ve sold tens of thousands of copies and my publisher has already ordered a reprint so there’ll be more to come! I’ve also agreed to write a third book, so look out for that later in 2014.
I travelled. A lot.
By my count I’ve stayed in more than 60 hotels this year. That’s more than one a week! There’s been a lot of traveling but it wasn’t without a purpose. I cooked a banquet as a guest of the Australian High Commission in Kuala Lumpur, a cooking class for 200 (yes, TWO HUNDRED) in Bali with Jonah Lomu and UB40 (I’m serious), took over from Stephanie Alexander designing the menu for this year’s Rymill Harvest Lunch, as well as going through Thailand, China, Australia and New Zealand. I fulfilled a dream of mine in writing, developing and presenting Destination Flavour: Japan. Travelling the entire length of that wonderful country over three months was an unforgettable experience and it has really affected the way I approach food.
That the series turned out to be such a success was really the icing on the cake. The response from all of you watching the show has been phenomenal and I really want to thank you for tuning in and supporting a show that we tried to make as intelligent, honest and entertaining as possible. The ratings were GREAT (our last episode of Japan DOUBLED the number of viewers that tuned in to the final episode of the first Destination Flavour season) and SBS has been kind enough to commission a third series. I’m right in the middle of filming that now so stay tuned for more Destination Flavour to come next year!
Thank you so much for all the interaction on social media this year. There’s nearly 200,000 of you all across facebook and Twitter and I feel like I’ve heard from almost all of you! I held out for years but finally succumbed to the wiles of Instagram, and much to my surprise I actually love it! (I still don’t use those weird filters, though.) I look forward to sharing more with you and hearing more from you over 2014.
I ate. More than I should have.
My computer tells me I’ve created more than 300 new recipes this year, but rather than just the food I made, one of the perks of hosting a food and travel show is that you get to eat a lot of nice stuff that other people make. Here’s a selection of the most memorable things I ate this year.
Family came first.
I feel like I’ve spent a whole year in hospitals. I don’t really need to go into the gory details of it but at one point my grandmother, mother and wife were all in three different hospitals across three different countries and I was flying between them all! It’s been really difficult at times but amazingly, MIRACULOUSLY, not only has everyone pulled through but they’re all in better health than they were before it all went pear-shaped. It’s amazing how these kinds of things can really put things into perspective for you.
It hasn’t all been bad, though. The biggest and best hospital news of the year was the happiest of my life. We welcomed little Christopher Wren Liaw into the world! I know I’m gushing like every new dad does, but he’s probably (easily) the best thing to ever happen to me.
This year I was appointed UNICEF Australia’s National Ambassador for Nutrition. Through the Bread for Good campaign and other initiatives from UNICEF, we’ve made a impact on the lives of children around Australia and the world. There’s still more work to be done. If you’d like to help UNICEF and the great work they do, you can donate here.
I hosted Christmas lunch.
I don’t normally mention specific meals, but this year there was a point where it looked like our family was going to be a few people smaller this Christmas. It all turned out for the best and gathering my whole family across 4 generations and 5 continents together at my dining table for a big family Christmas lunch was one of happiest days I’ve ever had. I don’t mind telling you that a few tears were shed, but I am very glad to say they were all tears of joy.
Well, that’s a lot to fit into one little year! Thanks again for all the good times, laughs and support. I really do feel like the luckiest guy on Earth.