On one particularly frigid morning in Brooks, Alberta, chef Martin Yan sped down the road to catch his first television appearance on a local Canadian show. Yan found himself in Canada during 1978, when he took a brief hiatus from his studies at UC Davis to help a friend open a Chinese restaurant. And he caught the eye of television producers who asked him to come down to the station for a cooking demo. But that morning, temperatures were at negative 30 degrees, and Yan was getting increasingly nervous.
“The reason why they called was because the executive chef was sick and couldn’t make it. So … I said, ‘Well, I’ve never been on television before.’ They said, ‘Well, you’ve got to come in because we love your food.’”