I'll admit, growing up in the culinary industry, I always saw Martin Yan as sort of a joke; a relic of early 90's cooking shows that spawned a series of pseudo-chef personalities that we see today. But I didn't give him nearly enough credit, and it was wrong of me to lump him into that category. He rose to prominence for a reason. It's only now, as I scour through the YouTube archives, that I'm realizing it. He was charismatic. He had personality. In essence, he did what for Asian cuisine, what Julia Child did for French cuisine, and that was making a completely foreign cuisine extremely approachable to the average American home cook. Most importantly, he had real culinary skill.

To see what I mean, watch the video below. When I first saw him massaging the chicken and calling it an 'ancient chinese secret', I scoffed. But then he went on to do the next thing, and then--my mind exploded. I spent the next half hour picking up pieces of my brain...

Here's another of him cutting a cucumber. It's fairly easy for a seasoned cook to cut thin slices, but to do it at the consistency Yan demonstrates here, requires arduous practice.