Adam Liaw: What is the difference between muffins and cupcakes?

Adam Liaw: What is the difference between muffins and cupcakes?

In this rollicking short lecture, MasterChef Australia-winning chef and Destination Flavour presenter Adam Liaw attempts to pick apart the differences – etymologically, compositionally, and culturally – between muffins and cupcakes. Along the way, he touches on how we assign meaning to what we eat, and how the tiniest of changes made decades or centuries ago can influence what we find on our plates today.

'When I first got the email about this topic,' Adam says, 'I happened to be standing next to Ben Shewry, from Attica. I thought, I've got one of Australia's best chefs right next to me – I should probably ask him. I said, "Ben, what is the difference between a cupcake and a muffin?" He thought about it for about five seconds, looked me straight in the eye, and said, "A cupcake is never savoury, and a muffin is never iced.' Which is bloody good; it's a brilliant definition. You can't get much better than that. But, of course, that's not the end of the story.'


Portrait of Adam Liaw

Adam Liaw

Adam Liaw is a unique voice in Australian food. He is a food columnist for Fairfax and the Guardian, and the author of four hugely popular cookbooks on Asian cuisines. On television, Adam hosts the SBS food and travel program, Destination Flavour, now in its fourth season. He was the winner of MasterChef Australia’s blockbuster second series in 2010. He is also a qualified lawyer.

Listen to Adam Liaw: What is the difference between muffins and cupcakes?