Chef Martin Yan – a name that’s well-known and popular in the culinary realm.
I mean, I’ve been a fan of his TV show “Yan Can Cook” since … since I don’t-know-when … must be way back in the late 70’s/early 80’s. Yes, he pioneered that daily cooking show – a classic and he was the first Asian chef to penetrate mainstream media back then. He has also authored 30 cookbooks including award-winning ones like “Martin Yan’s Feast”, “Martin Yan’s Asian Favourites”, “Chinese Cooking for Dummies” – the man is a legend! His latest cookbook “Martin Yan’s China” documents his travels and culinary discoveries in China which has also spinned off an exciting travelogue of the same title on the Asian Food Channel (AFC).
So you can imagine my glee when I received an invitation to Martin Yan’s cooking demonstration at The Ritz Carlton, Kuala Lumpur last weekend. It was a special appearance presented by AFC and also part of the internationally-acclaimed chef’s “8 Treasures of China” tour.
The moment he appeared, Chef Martin Yan captivated the audience with ease. He looked exactly the same in real life as on tv! His friendliness, charm and wit had everyone eating out of his hands within minutes. He started off by giving flowers to some of the ladies and one guy even got a tomato from him 🙂 (lucky fella!)
His knife skills are legendary and he promptly proved that to us – chopping and slicing vegetables into unbelievably thin pieces while his eyes were making contact with the audience. He was looking everywhere except the knife and speaking excitedly in his trademark fast-and-furious pace. Someone asked if his knife’s battery-operated?! It didn’t surprise me when he revealed that his knife is specially made and has his name stamped on it.
Chef Martin demonstrated 3 recipes: Siu Mai with Spicy Tomato Sauce, Yin Yang Vegetable Pockets and Sprin Rolls with Spicy Avocado Dip. These 3 recipes were specially concocted for the event, according to the witty chef. The recipes were given out in the press kit, so I didn’t pay much attention to the printed words. I was more interested in what Chef Martin had to say and he pretty much summed up his philosophy by saying that he wasn’t there to teach the recipes – he was more into teaching the basic techniques and to cultivate imagination because, by marrying the two, that’s when you will excel in your culinary efforts. Wise words indeed… and I totally agree with this veteran chef.
Siu Mai with Spicy Tomato Sauce
Yin Yang Vegetable Pockets (above)
Chef Martin Yan was just as affable and hilarious as I remember him in his tv show. His warmth, humour and vitality – so characteristic of the man – totally explains why he is so popular. Of course he also made everything looked so delectably easy and the 3 recipes he demonstrated were done in a jiffy.
Imagination and creativity – here are the different ways you can serve one single dish…
Spring Rolls with Spicy Avocado Dip
Just when we thought he was done with the cooking demonstration, Chef Martin continued with a “special presentation” – How to Cut Up a Chicken in 18 Seconds! He warned us not to even blink, lest we missed a single step and there’s no way he would repeat anything as he only had that one chicken! It was hilarious and entertaining … and pretty amazing.
His signature line: If Yan can cook, so can you!
He added on: If Yan can’t cook it, then don’t even try!
If you want to know more about this legendary chef, do visit his site here.
I thoroughly enjoyed myself that afternoon – I met one of my favourite chefs! – thanks to AFC, through the kind invitation from Alice George Communication (via a wave of a fairy wand!)
Catch some of the best food and lifestyle programs from around the region and the world on AFC – need I say that it’s one of my favourite channels on Astro?