Named the “Poet Laureate of the wok” by the food historian Betty Fussell, Grace Young has devoted her career to celebrating wok cookery and its global significance as a tool for preparing healthful and delicious meals. In her cookbook Stir-frying to the Sky’s Edge, which won the James Beard Foundation’s Best International Cookbook Award, she demystifies the art of stir-frying and takes readers on a tour of the humble instrument’s role as the premier culinary tool of the Chinese diaspora. Her work is currently showcased at the Museum of Chinese in America’s exhibition, “Sour, Sweet, Bitter Spicy” and the Museum of Food and Drink’s exhibition, “Chow.” Grace’s video, Chinese Trinidadian Chicken with Mango Chutney, won the 2017 IACP Digital Media Single Food-Focused Video Award. In 2016, she was named one of the “40 for 40” Women honorees for the American Museum of Natural History’s Margaret Mead Film Festival.
Grace is a four-time IACP award-winning writer, including the Jane Grigson Award for distinguished scholarship, recipient of the World Food Media Award, and the eGullet Culinary Journalist Scholarship. Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge was one of the top cookbooks of 2010 by NPR, The Washington Post, Good Morning America, and Huffington Post. She is the author of The Breath of a Wok and The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen.
Grace has lectured on wok culture at the American Museum of Natural History, New York University, San Francisco Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Culinary Institute of America Greystone, James Beard Foundation, Greenbrier Symposium for Professional Food Writers, French Culinary Institute, Culinary Historians of Chicago, Culinary Historians of Northern California, NASFT (National Association for the Specialty Food Trade), IACP, Tenement Museum, Omega Institute, China Institute, Asia Society, Chinese Historical Society of Southern California, Chinese American Museum of Chicago, Museum of Chinese in America, San Francisco Asian Art Museum, American Institute of Wine and Food, and the Chinese Historical Society of America.
Grace has devoted much of her career to preserving the traditional iron wok. With the growing popularity of nonstick cookware with Chinese and Chinese-American home cooks, the wok is an endangered culinary tool. She is the first food writer to write extensively about wok hei, the Cantonese term for a stir-fry that possesses wok fragrance and flavor. Grace’s translation of wok hei or the “breath of a wok” which she first coined in The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen, is now a part of Western culinary vocabulary. In 2004, Young was a guest curator for The Breath of a Wok exhibition at New York University’s Asian Pacific American Gallery. The show opened in 2005, at the Portland Classical Chinese Garden in Portland, OR.
Grace has been featured in The New York Times, All Things Considered, and on CBS News Sunday Morning. In addition to appearing as a guest on Sara Moulton’s Weeknight Meals and the Martha Stewart Show, she has been on The Leonard Lopate Show, Here and Now, The Splendid Table, and Good Food with Evan Kleiman. For seventeen years Grace was the Test Kitchen Director and Director of Food Photography for over forty cookbooks published by Time-Life Books. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, The New York Times, Food52, Gourmet, Bon Appétit, TheKitchn, Chow, Food & Wine, Fine Cooking, ZesterDaily, Gastronomica, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, Edible Communities, Everyday with Rachel Ray, and Better Homes and Garden.
Throughout Grace’s career healthy cooking has been a primary focus. She is featured in the WeightWatchers Stir-Fry Guru video series and writes the monthly Market Watch column for WeightWatchers magazine. Grace was the Test Kitchen Director for the U. C. Berkeley Wellness Cooking School and has written for Eating Well, Cooking Light, Shape, Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Fitness and Health magazines.
Grace currently serves on the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History’s Kitchen Cabinet, an advisory board made up of leaders in food scholarship and culinary history to help the museum shape and expand its research, collections, programs and exhibitions related to food and beverage history. From 2004 to 2010, she served on the James Beard Foundation’s Book Awards Committee. She was a contributing editor for Saveur magazine from 2006-2015.
Grace is the co-founder of Wok Wednesdays an online wok cooking group with over 2,000 members. She has taught healthy stir-frying throughout the U.S., including her popular Craftsy The Art of Stir-Frying class which has reached nearly 10,000 students.