How Chef Martin Yan Is Celebrating Lunar New Year - Exclusive

The Year of the Tiger officially begins today, February 1, after millions of people around the world have been celebrating over the past week to welcome in the Lunar New Year, according to CNN. For those that may be unfamiliar, Lunar New Year is a 15-day celebration and transformation when people clean and ready themselves for a bright and new beginning — among other traditional tasks that are done to ensure they can start the new year off with the right energy. For many people, Lunar New Year is really all about the food and dishes that are served up during this time of reflection and preparation. In an exclusive interview with Mashed, renowned Chef Martin Yan, PBS veteran and pioneering culinary television host, shared his annual traditions as well as his outlook for the coming year. 

"I'll normally prepare a Chinese New Year meal, and I invite some of my neighbors and friends ... to come to my house. And then we'll celebrate, a little Lunar New Year," Chef Yan said of his normal holiday agenda. But, due to the looming and highly transmissible variants of COVID-19 currently plaguing the world, Yan said his plans have been altered for 2022. "This year we will cancel that, but I'll prepare [a meal] to deliver to my office and ... to my neighbors," he explained. 

These are the traditional dishes Chef Yan prepares for Lunar New Year

Even though Chef Martin Yan won't be able to host his own lavish Lunar New Year feast in 2022, due to the pandemic, he does plan on sharing his time in the kitchen with the millions of people who regularly tune in to his YouTube channel. The television host and culinary talent plans to film the preparation of his traditional Lunar New Year dishes so others can cook along with him — he told Mashed of two particular dishes he'll focus on during the segments.

"During the Chinese New Year, you always serve a vegetarian dish," Chef Yan said. "Besides eating the protein and the meat that you prepare on New Year's Eve, for the first day, you always serve a vegetarian dish, and always serve with noodles," he added, explaining this is because fish is abundant. The second dish he plans to share with fans and friends is a classic that he hopes to add to his new product line with M.Y. Asia, which recently added General Tso's Chicken.

"Eventually we're going to develop a noodle line for the M.Y. Asia product [line] because noodles are universal. [It] doesn't matter whether you [are] Italian or Japanese or Korean or Thai or Vietnamese ... anybody loves noodles," he said, adding that long ones in particular symbolize longevity. "When you serve noodles on Chinese New Year, it symbolizes long-lasting happiness, long-lasting prosperity, long-lasting health, and long-lasting relationships," he explained. 

Chef Yan's M.Y. Asia General Tso's Chicken is now available at select Costco stores.