There is perhaps no greater bonding tool than a home-cooked meal. Whether it’s sizzling meats, warm plates of heavy pasta or a cool vegetable platter, there’s nothing like pulling off a dish for the first time, making it with close friends or family, and getting the chance to enjoy it together.
Chef Martin Yan knows this well, as he’s spent the last four decades promising viewers of his PBS show—the aptly named Yan Can Cook—that anyone can pull off the difficult dishes he presents to his audiences.
It should come as no surprise then, that Yan is one of the most celebrated chefs of his generation, and this summer, he will receive one more storied award: the James Beard Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Presented to those who have “had a positive and long-lasting impact in the way people eat, cook, and think about food in America,” Yan is perhaps one of the most well-deserving chefs, as his work has been enjoyed and followed along with for generations.
“I am honored to be recognized for the work I’ve done over the last four decades,” Yan says in a released statement. “The Yan Can Cook show allowed me to journey to incredible places and meet with unforgettable people all around the world. My heart is more than full in accepting this special award from the James Beard Foundation.”
Yan has hosted Yan Can Cook since 1982. It first appeared on a local public television station in Calgary, Canada, and soon appeared on substations internationally, positioning Yan to became one of the most well-known television chefs in the world.
His recipes were well-received, winning a number of awards throughout the show’s run, including an Emmy and the James Beard Award for “Best Television Cooking Show” in 1994. Many of the show’s best episodes can currently be watched on YouTube, courtesy of KQED; NorCal’s PBS affiliate.
The show’s impact was widely felt in homes and kitchens around the world, and his focus on Asian culture and cuisine has been celebrated, helping to grow the popularity of different dishes. Yan released more than 30 cookbooks, hosted events and tours around the world, and entertains thousands of viewers on Instagram.
At 73, Yan shows no signs of slowing. He’s set to open a restaurant in the newly-rebranded Horseshoe Las Vegas (formerly Bally’s) in Fall 2022. M. Y. Asia will bring some of Asia’s most celebrated dishes to the Las Vegas strip, bringing authentic Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese and Japanese cuisine to the resort.
Regardless of how you enjoy his work, one thing is for sure: Yan is everywhere, and one of the most celebrated figures in food today. While the Lifetime Achievement award could be seen as the culmination of all his success, it’s far from the final step for Yan, as there is still plenty more to do.
Photography by: Courtesy of Chef Martin Yan