Martin Yan always could

18th March 2014 by Ed No Comments

“If Yan Can Cook so can you” is probably the truest statement I ever heard and experienced. At a pre-Commonwealth Club meeting with Martin Yan, we were talking with some other guests about Martin’s first cooking class in the US. It was at UC Davis in 1971 my last year of Graduate School and Martin’s first year at UC Davis. We both were in Food Science and we both wanted to learn more about the science of food as it relates to cooking. During my first year at Davis the only people that would talk about the cooking was in the Home Economics Department.

Martin and Ed in Feb 2014 eb3It was that fall of 1972 when I saw this Chinese Cooking Class flyer. “Why not! I said to myself it’s the main reason I was at UC Davis was to learn about the science of food so I could apply it to cooking.” Previously I worked as a Mechanical Engineer at the San Francisco Bay Naval Shipyard and now I was following my dream to learn enough about food and to get paid to play around with it. At that time there were only a few options. The Chef’s association in SF wanted me, the mechanical engineer, to start as a dishwasher; the only cooks on TV were Julia Child and Graham Kerr; and the only Professional Cooking School in the USA was the CIA (Culinary Institute of America) who were just moving to Hyde Park in upper New York state. My strategy was to learn Food Science and then apply it to cooking on my own. So Martin’s course was preparation for my re-entry into the cooking world.

On the first day of Martin Yan’s cooking class, Martin rushed into the class and apologetically said ‘Geez I never expected that they would charge so much :(. So if it is OK with you, I’ll teach you everything you can find on a Cantonese Restaurant in Chinatown?’ We all applauded with overjoyed smiles :). Then Martin came alive with the same enthusiasm, the same excitement, the same speed (or even faster to live up to his word; he did about 6-8 dishes a class), some of the same jokes, some of same stories, and the same loveable personality (and accent-for those that asked me at the Commonwealth meeting)that he brings to the Yan Can Cook show today.

Even though Martin’s first formal cooking class in the US was so many year’s ago, I remember Martin came with the skills of a trained chef, the capability of a Master Teacher, the speed that almost blurred our eyes and his enduring happy personality. Martin always could and shortly after his class ended I visited a friend in San Francisco and cooked a super multi-course Cantonese banquet for six guests practicing what I learned and proving that ‘if Martin Can, I can too’. From shopping in Chinatown early morning to ticking off each of the courses we sat down to eat about 7 pm.

You can hear Martin Yan’s interview at the Commonwealth Club at

Please add a comment, a thought, what you like about Martin, his show, his recipes, your favorite Yan Can Recipe etc.

Fear of Failure Story

3rd October 2013 by Ed No Comments

A friend of mine, Darren LaCroix won the 2002 Toastmaster International Speech Competition in the first 30 seconds. It had to do with fear of failure and here is how he did it: Continue reading…

The 7 Deadly Sins of Brainstorming

3rd September 2013 by Ed 2 Comments

Brainstorming is like a hammer everyone has seen one but few actually use it to it’s fullest potential. It is usually done on the fly and the results are interesting but nothing seems to change after a session. Why? Because one or more of the 7 deadly sins of brainstorming have been committed. Continue reading…

Notebooks and journals and how to use them

1st August 2013 by Ed No Comments

Many times I see someone using a composition book or journal and I can’t resist asking them if they have written on the first six pages. It took me years to invent how to use a simple bound black composition book most effectively. (This system also works for pocket notebooks. When completed I write the year on top so I can see it when stored in an old 3 1/2″ floppy storage drawer.)
1. Activate the book by Continue reading…

The stress circle saved my life

15th July 2013 by Ed No Comments

Living dream 1 had several revelations the most important was the stress circle that I invented one afternoon while in my food product development lab.

I sat at my desk and suddenly it seemed that I was having trouble breathing Continue reading…

What happened living dream 1?

19th June 2013 by Ed No Comments

When I identified my passion in my early work years (after college), it allowed me to create a dream and begin living it three years later. I created a plan to achieve the dream, and then worked the plan until I knew I was living my dream. I was 27 Continue reading…

Your Passion is your secret source of energy

30th April 2013 by Ed No Comments

It was identifying my passion that gave me a clue Continue reading…

PASSION QUEST (2 more free live sessions in Santa Cruz)

13th March 2013 by Ed 2 Comments

Not sure what to do with your life? or what you were meant to do with your life? That certainly was a question that I pondered heavily while working at my first job Continue reading…

Bill Cosby in Sacramento at Success 2013

31st January 2013 by Ed No Comments

I have attended about four of these SUCCESS events over the past years. Like the others there were good to great speakers and many motivational nuggets. Some speakers delivered good content but had something more to sell (continuing education). Thankfully, the promoters kept these ‘next step offers’ at a low price. But usually the follow up events will lead to higher ticket items that sound irresistible. This is where they make their money. TIP: IF you are in the perfect position to take advantage of their next step offer it may work for you; PROVIDED you follow through by committing the time to take action. The truth is most people don’t take all the action necessary to make it work. As a rule of thumb I go for the experience and not to buy more stuff. Like wine tasting used to be, you go for the free samples, to learn, and to enjoy the experience.

There also were headliners (the celebrity people) that offered motivational information without trying to sell you a next step. These were the people that drew the crowd and filled the room. Bill Cosby was one of those that delighted the audience by serving the wisdom of his experience.

Bill Cosby started by saying they asked me to motivate you. It’s difficult because you got to do it yourself and most people know what to do but they can’t decide when to do it? They’re always wishing but not doing. Their common response to the actions they got to take is “I know. I know”
-You got to stop smoking, ‘I know:. You got to stop over-eating. ‘I know…
-He asked ‘How many people were managers and brought their employees here to get them motivated?’ SOLN: Show them a video of people out of work and they will get very motivated.
-Believe in yourself; Don’t talk yourself into failure (by doing nothing); Don’t make yourself scared (by fearing failure).
-Start to act and You’ll get divine intervention.
-The Bible old and new tells you what to do. You got to activate it.
-An old saying: ‘Trust in ALA but tie up your camel (so it doesn’t run away). You can’t keep wishing.’
-’Stop complaining it’s in you to do it.
-All the speakers that came earlier were just about begging you ‘to do’. Do something. Even James Brown has a song that says DO IT. eb

Six Areas of Worker Happiness

22nd December 2012 by Ed No Comments

People that know me and those that have attended my workshops know that I use my life stories as examples on how I found happiness in work. From the stories I point out how the lessons learned can apply to them. Usually we brainstorm a related question as applied to their own life as a way of assessing who they are and identify experiences that can help them discover their passions leading to a unique vision, goal, or purpose for their life.

There is nothing new under the sun. So I find it hard to get into books of other motivators. Many have arrived at the same conclusions through their own life experiences. In a way that’s good because it adds validity to the principles. In another way it gets to be same-o same-o.

As I look for confirmation that the happiness I experienced in pursuing my dreams can work for others, I will present them here as in this case. After three sets of ten year work experiences, my current dream or mission is:”to help people see a vision their next level of success”. I do that through dialog and formal or informal brainstorming.

However, while looking for more information to support this mission, I stumbled upon these ‘six areas for a worker’s happiness’* and they reflect what I have found to be true. Please use them as a guide or target for finding your own happiness at your work, career, or avocation:
1. a manageable workload: When you’re super creative or have a micromanaging boss it is hard to stay focused on one thing. However my best work gets accomplished when I focus on one thing. Best example was my work at Cookery at the Cove, the featured cooking school in Bon Appetit April 1979. The vision was to provide the best weekend cooking school experience in the world and the sub mission “They come as strangers and leave as friends.” The work was manageable and save for an hour and sleep we worked until the quests left on Sunday afternoon.
2. a sense of control: Because Jack at the cooking school let me rent his ocean view house and to do a cooking weekend on my own, I knew, that when we worked together a month later, exactly what had to be done during the weekend to accomplish the goal. Control was just doing what had to be done to accomplish the same result.
3.the opportunity for rewards: Pay at the Cove was based on the attendees. In the early days it was a small amount and later it was more. The satisfaction of quests happy and hugging after the Sunday Brunch provided more happiness than any money could ever provide.
4. a feeling of community: At the cove the potential staff found us and even worked for free the first time and then proposed how their contribution could contribute to the goal (the best cooking school in the world).
5. faith in the fairness of the workplace: our pay varied depending on the number of attendees. In the early days with only a few attendees, I know that Jack the founder took no pay for himself. He was definitely fair.
6. shared values: People joined the Cove team to be part of the vision and because of that every other month a cove weekend would be locked into our schedules.

*These came from a book highlighted in my Public Library: What to do with the rest of your life by Robin Ryan. She cited these six areas from the work of Christina Maslasch a pioneer researcher and author of The Truth about Burnout.

Please comment on this post; what do you think about these six areas?