Distinguished Achievement Award 2013: Martin Yan ’73, M.S. ’77

Martin Yan

The Chinese master chef is one of UC Davis’ most famous graduates, known for his 30 best-selling cookbooks and popular television series “Yan Can Cook,” broadcast worldwide. Yan, a native of Guangzhou, China, earned a bachelor’s degree in 1973 and master’s degree in 1977, both in food science. He lives in San Mateo County. 

He said his career inspiration came while watching Julia Child on television when he was a college freshman. The fast-chopping chef returns to campus frequently to share his passion for fresh and healthy Asian food. His wit, skills and charitable works are renowned worldwide. He’s been recognized internationally for his culinary artistry, being a food and wine travel TV host and receiving honorary doctoral degrees from several culinary universities. 

Recently, Yan helped secure gifts for the UC Davis Robert Mondavi Institute of Wine and Food Science, and is working with Jiangnan University and the Confucius Institute in China to establish a Confucius Institute at UC Davis. His wife, Susan ’73, and son Colin ’14, are also Aggies. Colin’s twin brother, Devin attends UC Irvine.