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Doodad

A thanks to Martin Yan

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I still have a signed copy of one of his cookbooks that I purchased at one of the very first Book and the Cook festivals probably almost 20 years ago.

That's where I first saw him live and in person. He's the consummate showman, I remember him chopping at finger defying speeds while looking up at the audience and cracking jokes. Yan rocks, wish he had a show on Cooking Channel, bring the cred up a little to offset some of the other knuckleheads on there.


Edited by Big Mike (log)

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His latest book, "Martin Yan's China" looks pretty good. I've leafed through a signed copy he left at a cooking school here in Beijing. It's a little top heavy on photos but apparently that's what the general public prefers these days?

This is the Amazon link:

http://www.amazon.com/Martin-Yans-China-Yan/dp/0811863964/rUTF8&qid=1296455262&sref=sr_1_1?ie==8-1

Has anyone seen the show? I have to download stuff on this side of the sink and I've never seen it available.

Awesome knife skills I don't even attempt to replicate. I value my fingers too much.

Looking at Amazon, he's got quite a body of work built up over the years.

Keep on choppin' Martin!

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I first started watching Martin Yan back in the 80s as a child. Having just moved from Hong Kong (with family members being in the food industry), I wasn't really impressed with his knife skills or his cooking. I thought he was a joke. :wacko:

However, as I grew and learned more about food, I began to appreciate him more and more. I don't have any of his cookbooks but I enjoy the shows a lot. I don't cook Chinese food much at home now but if that changes, I'll probably pick up a few of his books.

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It's telling that of the replies in this thread, all but two are from non-Chinese (and one of those is half) folks.

I think Martin Yan has great knife skills, but there's something about him that plays more to non-Asians. I think he fits that stereotype of East Asians that was prevalent in the west (like Mickey Rooney's portrayal of a bucktoothed Japanese man in Breakfast at Tiffany's). He's got the funny accent, repetitive speech (he generally repeats himself at least twice, usually three or more times), and slight overbite that's part of that stereotype. That makes him "foreign" and "exotic", yet "safe" to westerners. And like him, the food in his earlier cookbooks is foreign enough to appeal to people unfamiliar with Chinese food, but familiar enough to be "safe".

Can't say I value him as much as others, but I do give him props for bringing a better (how much better is debatable) Chinese food to the masses of North America. Without him, there would be no PFChang's.

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Hmmm, prasantrin, that's a really interesting analysis actually. I do think there is definitely something that makes him uncontroversial or "safe" in that way. I think his popularity was very much a result of when he came onto the scene, which is part of why I wondered out loud if his show was one of the first "ethnic" cooking shows on PBS (or TV in general). I don't remember anyone else besides him doing something that wasn't firmly grounded in European cooking traditions (I guess Mary Ann Esposito's "Ciao Italia" was the only other outlier, because IIRC, everything else was based on classical French cooking).

As I mentioned above, I'll always have some sort of nostalgia for him. Honestly, though, I've never thought to buy any of his books, and if I was going to buy a Chinese cookbook I'd probably buy a Fuschia Dunlop book. I don't actually cook that much Chinese food at home.

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I think he fits that stereotype of East Asians that was prevalent in the west (like Mickey Rooney's portrayal of a bucktoothed Japanese man in Breakfast at Tiffany's). He's got the funny accent, repetitive speech (he generally repeats himself at least twice, usually three or more times), and slight overbite that's part of that stereotype. That makes him "foreign" and "exotic", yet "safe" to westerners.

I remember hearing from those who've talked to him that he totally plays to the camera- he has a accent in real life but he will totally take it to the next level when he's being filmed.

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I think he's a lot like Jackie Chan. Yes, he's a little goofy and plays to stereotype. But under all that he is incredibly serious, educated, skilled, erudite. I've met him at the Top 100 Chinese Restaurant Awards. The guy knows his stuff and I think there's little question that he's brilliant. To see him in a more serious context -- though he always cracks jokes no matter what -- I think it's worth a look at this Asia Society appearance:

http://asiasociety.org/video/style-living/chef-martin-yan

I've also been led to believe by several Chinese people from China that Martin Yan is highly regarded there. Doesn't he have a cooking school there or something?

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I've never heard of a cooking school of his here but I'm not exactly plugged in anywhere. I did hear that he is trying to raise the respectability of the profession of chef here on the Mainland, although I'm not sure as to how he's going about that.

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A quick Google search turns up several references to The Martin Yan Culinary Arts Center in Shenzen, China, but I'm not sure what exactly goes on there.

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