Martin Yan Cooking Demonstration at Macy’s Union Square

Macy's Chinese New Year Decoration.
Macy’s Chinese New Year Decoration. 

Macy’s Union Square hosted a cooking demo with celebrity chef Martin Yan last Saturday at the Cellar located on the lower level. I’ve watched my fair share of cooking shows but Martin Yan’s Yan Can Cook on PBS is one of the earliest that I remember enjoying as a kid. With his Chinese cleaver, he could chop up a storm. Going back and forth in rhythm while not even looking at his hands.

The event was sold out but there were people hanging around the sides just to catch a glimpse. A brief introduction was given by the Macy’s staff and then Martin Yan was popped up at the front and was greeted with a round of applause. At 69 years old, he’s still going strong, with a new series called Yan Can Cook: Spice Kingdom, as he goes around Chengdu China for some Sichuan cuisine. The Yan Can Cook series has aired since 1982! That’s a lot of episodes. He then had the audience say out loud, “gung hay fat choy”, or roughly “happy new year” in Cantonese. Well, it is Lunar New Year, as well as the day of the Chinese New Year Parade, after all.

Martin Yan and M.Y. China's executive chef Tony Wu
Martin Yan and M.Y. China’s executive chef Tony Wu

Martin Yan knife demonstration.
Martin Yan knife demonstration.
Tony Wu hand pulled noodles demonstration.
Tony Wu hand pulled noodles demonstration.

After a bit more plugging of his new show and Macy’s products, he got behind the chopping board and got the show started. He pulled out his signature Chinese cleaver and started banging away at some metal pans to demonstrate his drumming skills. Yup, he is still full of energy and has the same sense of humor that he has on the show. He then started to slice and chop some vegetables for plating. Afterwards, he had the audience time him while he deboned a whole chicken in 18 seconds.

For the next part of the demo, Martin Yan introduced noodle master Tony Wu, the executive chef of his restaurant M.Y. China. The first noodle that he made was the scissor cut noodles that are literally cut by using a scissor. He cut a few evenly sized pieces with precision. A lucky or maybe not so lucky audience member was chosen to make some scissor cut noodles up front with the chefs. Martin Yan was quick to point out the flaws in her technique. I guess we have to go to his restaurant to get some professionally cut noodles.
Martin Yan showing the hand pulled noodle dish to the audience.
Martin Yan showing the hand pulled noodle dish to the audience. 
Scissor cut noodles sample.
Scissor cut noodles sample. I wish they a bigger portion. 

Hand pulled noodles sample.
Hand pulled noodles sample.

Both chefs then started sautéing up some vegetables and then added scissor cut noodles to make a chow mein style dish. And now the best part of the demo, the samples! Whenever I watch cooking shows with a live audience, I always get envious that they could sample what the chef was making. Now, my dream has come true. Tiny wooden plates with the noodles were handed out and I finally got to try some yummy cooking demo food.

Noodle master Tony Wu then demonstrated the hand-pulled noodles where he continuously stretched and twirled the dough into thin strands. This was entertaining to watch as he walked around the center aisle, spinning the noodles, careful not to get the dough stuck anywhere. Samples of the hand-pulled noodles were also given out in a tiny plastic bowl. I could taste the sichuan peppers in the sauce.

At the end of the event, fans lined up to get a photo with Martin Yan as well as a signed photo. I think I will make a stop at M.Y. China for some of these professionally made noodles sometime soon.

Dragon ceiling installation at Macy's.
Dragon ceiling installation at Macy’s. 

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