At 60, 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. In June 2009 he was awarded with an honorary OBE for services to culinary arts, recognising his achievements and the impressive social and historical impact he has made on the way the UK has adopted Chinese cuisine, which has now become one of the nations favourites. In September 2007, he was awarded with an honorary doctorate from Oxford Brookes University for his outstanding success within the international food world and to recognise him as one of the world's most notable chefs with a highly successful career in the media, as an entrepreneur and as a supporter of charity and education. He was then appointed as Founding Patron of Oxford Gastronomica, the Centre for Food, Drink and Culture at Oxford Brookes University.
Since September 2008, he has become an ambassador for Action Against Hunger, the humanitarian charity which works in over 40 countries helping families to feed their children and build a sustainable life. www.aahuk.org
Widely regarded as one the world's greatest authorities on oriental cooking, he is also the presenter of a documentary on the origins of noodles, The Noodle Road. This new five part documentary series for KBS (Korean Broadcasting Service) was a huge success when broadcasted in early 2009 and the series has now been sold to over 25 countries around the world. In addition, he is involved in developing a number of food and drink concepts in Thailand with the Bandara Hotel Group. His first restaurant, Maison Chin in Bangkok's Bandara Hotel, opened in October 2008, has already been called the best new modern Asian cuisineand has been awarded by Thailand Tatler as one of Thailand Best Restaurants 2009.
Ken was born in Tucson, Arizona where his Cantonese parents lived after emigrating to American in the 1920's. Moving to Chicago, as he 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 20 he headed off for 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 lay - 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.
His first book on Chinese cookery techniques was published in 1981 to much acclaim and then the New York Times published a major profile on him. Ken still regards the book and the NY Times article as one of the turning points in his career. From there, he landed his first television series in 1984 Ken Hom's Chinese Cookery which bore the same title as the book that many still regard as the bible. The show was an instant hit and was transmitted throughout the world. Foolproof Chinese Cookery,published in 1984, had a first printing of a then record breaking 350,000 copies. In 2009, the BBC celebrated the 25th anniversary of the book, which continues to sell after more than two decades in print. Since that first success, Ken Hom he has written 23 books, many translated in more than 12 languages, and has presented a further four television series Hot Chefs, Ken Hom's Hot Wok, Ken Hom's Foolproof Chinese Cookery, and Travels with a Hot Wok , which attracted millions of viewers. www.kenhom.com
His interests include travel, wine, cycling, British TV, reading and football events (he is a Manchester United supporter).
NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) - Ken hosted 2 Chinese New Year banquets with Cherie Blair (one of their patrons) to do fundraising for them - each raised over 30,000.
Barnados - Ken hosted a fund raiser with Cherie Blair, another children's charity for which Cherie is a patron.
Shado - Ken hosted a fund raiser with Cherie Blair of which she is a patron, we did a fund raiser forChinese New YearinLiverpool (a charity to help families of drug addicts and other unfortunate addicts).
ROC (Research into Ovarian Cancer) - Ken hosted a fund raiser for this at Imperial City restaurant.
Action AgainstHunger - Ken hosted a Chinese New Year Dinner benefit for the victims of the Tsunami disaster which raised over £33,000 net for the evening - Jan2005.
Another charity benefit for Action Against Hunger raised over £20,000 in May 2006.
He has been an Action Against Hunger Ambassador for this charity for more than three years.
Princess of Wales Hospice in Glasgow - Ken was asked to do this in Chinese New Year and hosted an evening at a big centre in Glasgow.
Jersey Hospice - Ken hosted two fund raisers in consecutive Chinese New Year dinners in Jersey
The Elizabeth Hardie Ferguson Charitable Trust. Launch Dinner for Alex Ferguson private charity he has also raised funds for the Trust over the years through many other events.
The above are the main charities. Ken has hosted events for many smaller charities such as the Islington Chinese Association and The Newcastle Chinese Association, and makes small but regular donations of his books to countless charities and events.
Ken has also recorded a message to raise awareness for the Environmental Justice Foundation which is exposing the exploitation of workers in the tiger prawn industry in Bangladesh and other Eastern prawn farms, as well as recording a message in support of blind children.
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