Martin Yan

Culinary Articles » Famous Chefs

December 2004
Born 1948
Guangzhou, China
Cooking Style Chinese, mainly Cantonese
Education Munsang College, Overseas Institute of Cookery of Hong Kong, University of California, Davis
Current Restaurant(s) Yan Can (Santa Clara, Pleasant Hill)
Television Show(s) Yan Can Cook
Martin Yan's Quick and Easy
Martin Yan's Chinatown Cooking
Martin Yan's Hong Kong

Martin Yan (Chinese: Pinyin: Zhēn Wéndá; jyutping: Yan Man Tat) (born December 1948) is a Chinese-born American chef and the host of the award-winning US national cooking show Yan Can Cook.

Early years

Born in Guangzhou, China, to a restaurateur father and a grocer mother, Yan began to cook at 12. He moved to Hong Kong when he was 13, and attended the Munsang College in Kowloon City. During this time in Munsang College, he worked at his uncle's Chinese restaurant and learned about the traditional method of Chinese barbecue there. He received a diploma from the Overseas Institute of Cookery of Hong Kong and later left for Canada for continuous study. Ten years after his arrival in North America, Yan received a Master of Science degree in food science from University of California, Davis, in 1975 .


After teaching Chinese cooking for the extension program and appearing on a local Calgary talk show in 1978 (on CHCT-TV, now CICT-TV), Yan has been hosting over 1,500 episodes of the PBS cooking shows Yan Can Cook since 1982. He has also appeared on cartoon talk show Space Ghost: Coast to Coast, which currently airs on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim.

Martin Yan currently hosts "Martin Yan - Quick & Easy." He also hosts Martin Yan's Chinatown Cooking, where he tours Chinatowns around the globe.

Yan is one of the lead actors of the Singaporean movie Rice Rhapsody (2005).

Martin Yan also received the title of "Master Chef" by the American Culinary Federation.

He has appeared as a guest judge on several episodes of Iron Chef America.

Television appearances

  • Yan Can Cook (1978- ) - Host
  • Christine Cushing Live - Guest
  • Martin Yan's Hong Kong (2005-2007) - Host
  • Martin Yan's Quick and Easy - Host
  • Martin Yan's Chinatown Cooking - Host
  • Martin Yan's China (2008) - host

Cookbook career

Yan has opened a chain of Yan Can Restaurants and founded the Yan Can International Cooking School in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has written over two dozen cookbooks:

  • Chinese Recipes (1978)
  • Martin Yan's Feast: The Best of Yan Can Cook
  • Chinese Cooking for Dummies
  • Martin Yan's Asian Favorites
  • Martin Yan's Quick and Easy
  • Martin Yan's Chinatowns
  • Martin Yan's Culinary Journey Through China
  • Martin Yan's Asia
  • Martin Yan's Entertainment At-Home
  • Martin Yan the Chinese Chef
  • Martin Yan's Invitation to Chinese Cooking
  • Martin Yan's Feast


  • An honorary Doctorate of Culinary Arts by Johnson & Wales University.
  • A Daytime Emmy Award in 1998 for best cooking show.
  • A 1996 James Beard Award for Best TV Food Journalism.
  • A 1994 James Beard Award for Best TV Cooking Show.
  • The Antonin Careme Award by the Chef's Association of the Pacific Coast.
  • The Courvoisier Leadership Award by Courvoisier.

Personal life

Yan is married to Susan, a Japanese-American biochemist whom he met while at UC Davis. In April 1992, Susan gave birth to twin sons, Colin and Devin. They currently reside in Hillsborough, CA. His twin sons both attend Aragon High School in San Mateo, California. Yan grows his own vegetables and herbs in his backyard.

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