Ken Hom OBE is the man who showed the British how to cook Asian food. A leading authority on Chinese cuisine, he is one of the most respected and celebrated TV chefs of all time. His phenomenal success is easily measured. He is the author of almost 40 books, which have inspired millions of home cooks around the world. And in Britain alone, the Ken Hom wok is found in one in seven kitchens. Ken Hom, who resides in France and in Thailand but travels tirelessly all over the world, continues to appear regularly as a celebrity chef, write books and keep involvement with restaurants worldwide. On any one day, when googling the name ‘Ken Hom’ the search brings back an amazing average of 45,600,00 results.
Additionally, he has been one of the fathers in articulating what is now popularly known as ‘fusion cooking'. His seminal book called East Meets West Cuisine was published in 1986. It was his natural development of cultural experiences and elective affinities that lend to the blending of Eastern and Western foods, seasonings, and techniques derived from his family life, professional teaching career and travels. The success of the concept led him to create menus for airlines, and hotel restaurants worldwide as well as restaurant concepts over the last 45 years.
Ken was born in 1949 in Tucson, Arizona, where his Cantonese parents had emigrated. After losing his father when he was just eight months old, his mother moved to Chicago to be with relatives. (In 2022, Ken’s father was honoured with the award of Congressional Gold Medal for his services during World War II). As Ken grew up, he found American food unpalatable compared to his mother’s cooking, so she used to send him to school with a flask of hot rice and stir-fried vegetables.
Aged 11, he went to work in his uncle’s restaurant, where he earned the equivalent of 30 pence per day. At 19 he headed off to California to study art history and French history. To pay for his university fees he started to give cookery lessons and quickly realised that this was where his heart really laid – especially with his native Chinese cuisine. He soon started teaching first in his home, and then at the California Culinary Academy (a school for professional chefs in San Francisco). He also travelled to France and Italy to explore gastronomy further.
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