— Cooking with Adam Liaw airs weekday evenings on SBS Food at 7:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m., or stream for free on SBS On Demand. Catch Jane and Jimmy in episodes 125 and 133. —
In the middle of the dining room of a warehouse in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales is a massive table that, before COVID, faithfully carried the weight of feasting for 30.
“It’s a giant old baker’s table out of a Scottish kitchen,” Jane Barnes told SBS Food.
It’s a fitting nod for his family. Her husband, rocker Jimmy Barnes, is from Glasgow, and Jane, with her Thai roots, discovered the love of food at a young age, living across the world with her diplomat father. Around the table, this is where they feel at home.
“We live next to my sisters and before COVID we would all get together on Sundays and there would be at least 28 people, and that’s just family!” she says.
Used to the rock’n’roll lifestyle, time at home was a luxury for the couple, given the continued popularity of Jimmy’s music and the busy touring schedule. Containment changed that.
âWhen we’re on the road, we’re so busy,â she explains. âSo we were suddenly home, and we were like, what are we doing with our time? “
Unsurprisingly, they turned to music to get by and stay connected. Jane took up the guitar, and their social media posts of family singing sessions received a positive response from fans.
âSocial media was a way to stay connected,â says Jane. âNot only with our family and friends, but Jimmy is so used to bonding with his fans when he tours, so that was just our way of cheering everyone on. The only goal is to encourage people and to be positive.
âI always thought it would be a good thing to have; a family cookbook, but I never really had the time.
But it didn’t stop at collaborations with Deisel or interpretations of classic Australian pub rock anthems. Another project to share the love of Barnes life and family was in the works; a new cookbook, Where the river bends. The title pays homage to their rural property, where they grow their own produce and welcome their loved ones.
âI always thought it would be a good thing to have; a family cookbook, but I never really had the time, âsays Jane. âThe lockdown was the perfect opportunity and time not to be interrupted and to manifest it. I don’t think that could have happened if we were constantly packing our bags to go on tour for weeks.
One being a seasoned word master and the other a passionate home cook, it is perhaps no wonder that the two talents have merged. The book is written for the home cook, the pages filled with their favorite family recipes.
Thai dishes are plentiful (think Thai chicken rice, fresh salads with herbs, and fried fish), as well as their favorites for breakfast, sides, and dessert.
âThese are the recipes that we love and the recipes that have united our whole family,â Jimmy told Adam Liaw on The kitchen. “Sharing music, food, art with your family is just one of the great things you do.”
He makes his roasted red duck curry, blending sweet lychees, rich coconut cream, and fragrant Thai basil, while Jane shares an aromatic Thai green lobster curry, all made from scratch.
âWe are not leaders,â she explains. âThe recipes are for anyone who wants to cook and feed the family. These are just very simple and doable recipes. But delicious! â
“[My curry] is one you can do quickly when you’ve been at work all day and want to come home and cook something good, âJimmy says. “He’s a real crowd favorite.”
Whatever the dish, it’s about bringing people together around the table. And when it’s as big as theirs, they better prepare for a crowd.