What was your first big break on TV? How were you discovered?
"I was in the right place at the right time, and I was very fortunate. In the early days, very few of us planned a career toward this direction. After I graduated from college I helped a friend open a restaurant in Canada, and then one day, I received a frantic call from a local station saying their regular chef got sick, and they asked, ’Chef Yan, can you come and be a special guest for the day?’ So I said, ’Sure, oh, yeah, I’ll show up.’ I’d never been in front of a camera before. I started fooling around on-camera, and it just happened that—and this is what you call coincidence—the general manager of the channel in Calgary watched my performance. He normally watched a competitor’s station, but he just happened to turn on his own station, and I happened to be on in that particular half hour. He saw this show and said, ’Wow! We have to do a Chinese-cooking show!’"
What are some of your favorite things that you’ve made on-air?
"Sometimes I will show people how to do things that take two or three days to prepare, like Peking duck or things like that, but I prefer to cook recipes that I know people can purchase the ingredients for in a local market and prepare at home."
Do you have any cooking secrets?
"As a cooking teacher, I hold nothing back. Everybody can follow the same recipe. Even if I give you the secret recipe, if you don’t execute it properly, if you don’t know how to control the temperature and the time... the difference between a great chef and an average professional is that a great chef knows how to execute the recipes. They do it with passion-they do it with their heart. If you don’t do it with your heart and your passion, even if you do it with all of the greatest ingredients in the world, you can’t do it properly."