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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 forty books, which have inspired millions of home cooks around the world. And in Britain alone, the Ken Hom wok is 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 celebrity chef, write new books and keep an involvement with restaurants worldwide.
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. 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 traveled to France and Italy to explore gastronomy further.
A major national profile on him, published in the New York Times in 1981, lead to the publication of his first book on Chinese Cookery Techniques to much acclaim. Soon after the BBC contacted him, producing his first UK television series in 1983 Ken Hom’s Chinese Cookery, which bore the same title as the book accompanying the series, that many still regard as the ‘bible’. The show introduced and demystified Chinese cooking for the UK over 30 years ago, and was an instant hit, broadcast throughout the world. The book sold over 1.5 million copies worldwide making publishing history by being the first non-fiction book with a first printing of 350,000. In 2009, the BBC celebrated the 25th anniversary of the book, which to this day continues to be a top-seller after more than three decades in print.
Ken presented a further five television series – Hot Chefs, Ken Hom’s Hot Wok, Ken Hom’s Foolproof Chinese Cookery, Travels with a Hot Wok and Exploring China: A Culinary Adventure, attracting millions of viewers. He also presented a documentary on the origins of the noodle, ‘The Noodle Road’. This documentary series for KBS (Korean Broadcasting Service) was a huge success when broadcasted in early 2009 that it was sold to over 25 countries around the world, winning several awards, including the prestigious Peabody Award in 2010.
In November 2014 he released Truffles, the updated version of his book ‘Truffes’ first written in French in 2000 with Pierre-Jean Pebeyre of France’s legendary Pebeyre truffle family. The book won the Gourmand Award 2014 for ‘Best Mushroom Book’ category – USA.
His most recent book is his autobiography ‘My Stir Fried Life’ released at the end of September 2016. The book is a high-spirited, life-enriching feast where the chopsticks never stock clattering, the platters are always abundant, and dreams – no matter how ridiculously unbelievable – can and do come true.