Sunday, 16 September 2012

A Morning with Culinary Artist Martin Yan

James Gibbs had the opportunity to meet the legendary Celebrity Chef, Martin Yan, at Berjaya University College of Hospitality at Berjaya Times Square hosted by the Asian Food Channel.
"Cooking is about having confidence in your abilities"
Martin is visiting Malaysia to host a dinner event and also to promote his show, True Passion – Martin Yan. Martin has judged shows such as ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ as well a being a food pioneer, and has a Master’s Degree in Food Science. He was presenting his craft in the well-appointed demonstration kitchen of the Berjaya University. Also in the room were around 20 young students who were soon to venture out to cook and compete in some of Malaysia’s most respected restaurants and hotels.

Martin sharing his experience with young cooking talent
One soon realizes that spending an hour or more with Martin is just as much as about learning his life’s philosophies as it is about his outstanding culinary skills. Martin was presenting his talents and advice to cooking students on how to survive in the ‘battlefield’ kitchen working environment.
Martin Yan the Ninja Chef
Martin Yan is pretty much the result of a fusion between one of the world’s finest chefs and a Ninja warrior. His skills with slicing and dicing are second to none. Most think he would be just as much at home in a Bruce Lee movie as he is in the kitchen.  He spoke both passionately and at length to the students of the importance of using and maintaining the correct tools of the trade while simultaneously performing neurosurgery on tomatoes and cucumbers with his custom made super-knife. This ‘one and only’ blade he employs for all tasks (apparently including shaving when required) and is a formidable piece of kitchen hardware. Later we saw how he can completely deprive a hapless chicken of all bones in only 18 seconds – a spectacular piece of showmanship.

His mastery of cooking is reflected by his deep understanding of what it takes to become a great chef.  “A good chef must show passion, excitement, energy and happiness” He also advised the students to “be individual and follow your dreams and most importantly, believe in yourselves!”

Martin performed some outstanding displays of cooking by preparing two dishes that even though cooked at light speed, they were absolutely delicious. The first being a zingy stir fried chicken on a bed of tomatoes sliced thinner than the Shroud of Turin and other garnishes. The second dish was a fried fish fillet on a bed of fruit salsa, garnished with a prawn, crab meat and egg white sauce. Needless to say just how tasty that one was!

The only slightly disappointing aspect of the day was the quality of prep done by the students when it came to asking questions at the end of the session. Clearly overwhelmed by the steely gaze of this culinary warrior, the only question that surfaced was “how to cook a nice dish?” A pity that that this rare and potentially valuable experience was missed to ask really good questions from one of the best Asian chefs on the planet.

Seeing Martin perform has to be one of the most inspirational displays of cuisine preparation. Creating amazing cuisine in a blur of motion while entertaining the audience with interesting stories about his rise to fame is his specialty. Now I know I need to sign up for a cooking course at Berjaya Times Square.


  1. wow! you met him ... cool.. i would love to be there too

  2. Great comparison, likening a chef to a ninja warrior! And I bet a ninja wouldn't be able to dice his carrots as well as Martin does! :D

    1. Ha yes - I would not like to be the carrot