Health and Fitness

James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award winner chef Martin Yan speaks out against hate crimes, violence against Asians in Bay Area


SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — Celebrity chef Martin Yan has spoken out against the rising incidents of Asian hate crimes and violence in the U.S. since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“I feel so sad that they are targeted,” said the San Mateo resident and trailblazer of the Asian community in the Bay Area.

“There’s no need to target all these elderly people, you know, they are victims. We’re all victims during the pandemic. So we just have to be united to make the Bay Area a better place for all of us to live.”

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As restrictions lifted, Yan actively promoted bringing people back to the Bay Area to visit. He spends his time lending support to merchants in San Francisco’s Chinatown who suffered during the pandemic.

This year, he released a YouTube series on San Francisco’s Chinatown, called MY Chinatown to showcase the stories, strength and resilience of the people and businesses in this community.

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Easily one of the most recognizable chefs in the world, Yan began cooking on television in 1978. His show “Yan Can Cook” has produced 3,500 episodes and has been broadcasted to more than 50 countries.

This year, the James Beard Foundation honored him with their prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award, in recognition of a lifetime body of work that had “a positive and long-lasting impact on the way we eat, cook, and/or think about food in America,” according to a statement by the foundation.

Even though he is one of the most recognizable chefs in the world, Yan spoke of humble beginnings.

“For me, being a young kid I left China when I was very young, and came over here with only about US $20 in my pocket. Nothing – no relatives, no nothing. I have to learn to survive,” he said.

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“I was born and grew up in the most turbulent time in modern Chinese history. A lot of famine, a lot of starvation. We went to bed hungry all the time. So I always tell myself, if I ever had the opportunity, I would study food, I would produce food. I’ll get involved with food so I will never go hungry. That’s reason why all my life is about food,” he said.

He attributes his success to his mother, who told him to never take “no” for an answer.

Yan’s mother ran a grocery store and found success despite the many difficulties they experienced. She often encouraged him that anything was possible in life.

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“She is a tough cookie and a survivor. She always said I have no education and I can make it. You can, too. So that’s reason why later on when I think about the ‘Yan can cook, so can you’ slogan, I think of my mother.”

Always advocating to make the Bay Area a better place to live, work and visit, Yan spends his time fundraising for public libraries, supporting local restaurants and highlighting the wonderful things the Bay Area has to offer.

“We live in a most beautiful, a most bountiful place,” Yan said.

“Let us take care of each other, live harmoniously, peacefully, and be respectful be receptive to each other.”

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