Martin Yan is probably best known for his slapstick cooking style and popular PBS series, "Yan Can Cook." For almost 25 years, Martin has entertained and taught North Americans how to create authentic Asian cuisine. His well known, heavily accented English has shown us the best uses for Bok Choy and other asian vegetables.
Born in 1956 in Buangzhou, China, Martin left home at the age of 13. He traveled, working in restaurants to earn his way. He considers himself to be a gypsy, always living with people when he travels. He makes it a point to learn the native language of whomever he stays with, and today boasts four different Chinese dialects, in addition to English.
Martin originally attended the Overseas Institute of Cookery in Calgary, Alberta, paying his tuition by doing odd jobs at the school. He left to pursue his masters degree in Food Science from the University of California at Davis, which he recieved in 1975. At the age of 16 he began teaching a Chinese cooking class at the university. One day a student fell asleep. Martin realized he needed to find a way to make his classes more interesting, and discovered it when he awoke the student by banging his spatula on his wok. When the classroom broke into laughter, Martin realized that humor was the best way to keep people interested, and thus his comedic cooking style was born. Today, that style remains an integral part of all his shows.
In 1978 Martin opened his first restaurant in Calgary. After adding a cooking class he was asked to appear on a local talk show. His appearance was so well-recieved the show asked him to become a regular, with his own segment. In 1979 he began "Yan Can Cook" on PBS. A show which remains popular throughout North America today.
In 1994 Martin Yan was presented the James Beard Award for Best Television Show. This award acknowledged
his success as an international icon. Today Martin is a successful restaurant owner, consultant, television personality, and author. Among the companies that he consults for are Ruby Tuesday®, United Airlines®, Kikkoman®, Libby®, Nestle®, Tyson®, and the Empress Court at Ceasars Palace in Las Vegas.
Martins latest venture is a new television series "Yan Can Cook, the Best of Chinatown." It is a culinary journey through a11 of the world's largest Chinatowns including Sydney, Australia and New York City.
In addition to his popular television series and consulting, Martin also has a signature line of knives and kitchen equipment; he has also authored over a dozen books.
Books by Martin Yan:
- Martin Yan's Invitation to Chinese Cooking, publshied by Bay Books, out of print
- Yan Can Cookbook, Doubleday February 1982, ISBN: 0385176066
- Joy of Wokking: A Chinese Cookbook, published by Main Street Books October 1982, ISBN: 0385183429
- Chinese Chef, published by Doubleday May 1986, out of print
- Everybody's Wokking, published by Harlow & Ratner March 1991, ISBN: 0962734500
- A Simple Guide to Chinese Ingredients and Other Asian Specialties, published by Yan Can Cook January 1994, ISBN: 1884657001
- Too Easy Gourmet: The World's First Non-Fiction Cookbook, co-authored with Ben Levitan, published by Too Easy Gourmet Press September 1995, ISBN: 0964002302
- Martin Yan's Culinary Journey Through China, published by Bay Books October 1997, ISBN: 0912333642
- Martin Yan's Asia: Favorite Recipes from Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Japan, published by Bay Books November 1997, ISBN 0912333324
- The Well Seasoned Wok, published by FineCommunications July 1998, ISBN: 1567312527
- Martin Yan's Feast: The Best of Yan Can Cook, published by Kqed December 1998, ISBN: 0912333316
- Chinese Cooking for Dummies, published by John Wiley & Sons October 2000, ISBN: 0764552473
- Martin Yan's Asian Favorites: From Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Thailand, published by Ten Speed Press November 2001, ISBN: 1580083706
- Martin Yan's Chinatown Cooking: 200 Traditional Recipes from 11 Chinatowns Around the World, published by William Morrow & Co. November 2002, ISBN: 0060084758
Information above was gathered, in part, at the following websites:
http://journalism.berkeley.edu/projects/pacific/yan/index.html; and http://www.amazon.com.