Celebrity chef Martin Yan can always find inspiration

Celebrity chef Martin Yan can always find inspiration
Martin Yan is back with a new cooking show.
PHOTO: Asian Food Channel

Martin Yan has been in the business for close to 40 years, and still shows no sign of slowing down.

The 68-year-old celebrity chef, known for his Yan Can Cook television series, is back with another new cooking show, Martin Yan's Asian Favourites, which shows on the Asian Food Channel (StarHub Ch 435) every Thursday at 9pm.

The eight-episode series showcases over 30 dishes influenced by the China-born chef's experience, bringing out local flavours from six countries and territories - Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

Each episode will show how easy it is to make dishes such as fish head noodle soup and chicken eggplant green curry.

The San Francisco-based Yan tells The New Paper what keeps him going and his aim to demystify Asian cooking.

You have been in the industry for so long. Do you still find yourself learning new things and new ways of cooking?

Of course. Cooking is and always will be a learning experience.

I have been in the industry for nearly four decades now. I enjoy eating and I enjoy food, and to be able to do both in my profession is a true blessing. It's the love and passion for my work that keeps me coming back and wanting to always learn more.

Is it hard to find something new to feature in your shows?

Not at all. Every time I travel, I find something new about an ingredient or about a dish. There is always inspiration out there.

Can you share the most memorable experience from each country you have visited?

I love the energy, dynamism and the "sleekness" of Singapore, and one of my most memorable experiences would be visiting the temples.

For Malaysia, I love the combination of different multicultural elements and the fact you can find it all on the same street.

In Hong Kong, where I grew up, I'm always amazed by the fish tanks in the restaurants and wet markets.

Every time I visit the Philippines, I order the roast pig. I can finish the whole thing myself! I'm also in awe of the East-West infusion in the country, from the architecture to the food.

How does one maintain the status of a culinary icon?

Money shouldn't be the main driving factor. It should be the passion for your job and the sense of personal satisfaction you get from doing it.

Would you consider doing a show on Asian cuisine found in European countries?

Yes. My aim is to always demystify Asian cooking and to adapt Asian food to Western palates.

I have realised that Asian cooking is the same everywhere - it is just a matter of tweaking the ingredients but achieving the same results through mastering the basics of cooking.

What advice would you give to younger culinary show hosts?

Love food and cooking. Love what you do and you will never have to work a day in your life!

As a culinary show host, you will travel a lot and be put under a lot of pressure. It's tough, but if you enjoy it, you won't burn out.


This article was first published on Jan 12, 2017.
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