Named the “poet laureate of the wok” by food historian Betty Fussell, Grace Young has devoted her career to demystifying the ancient cooking utensil for use in contemporary kitchens. An award-winning cookbook author, culinary historian, and filmmaker, Grace has been a fierce advocate for Chinatown, never more so than in her recent video series Coronavirus: Chinatown Stories, —produced in collaboration with videographer Dan Ahn and Poster House—which documents the toll of the pandemic on New York City’s Chinese community. In 2020 the series was shown at the Smithsonian. She is also partnering with the James Beard Foundation on an Instagram campaign to #savechineserestaurants all across the country.
Dubbed the “accidental voice for Chinatown” by Grub Street, Grace’s advocacy for Chinatown has been written about in Smithsonian, Vogue, Washington Post, HuffingtonPost and Food & Wine magazine. She has partnered with Welcome to Chinatown for the Grace Young’s Support Chinatown Fund to raise over $40,000 to support Chinatown eateries and distribute food to the community. This ongoing campaign provides fresh, nutritious, and familiar meals for low income, food insecure, and at-risk senior residents in NYC. In April 2021 she partnered with Asian Americans For Equality (AAFE) for the Safe With Sound campaign, raising over $24,000 to provide personal security alarms for the AAPI community.
Grace’s family’s Canton rose porcelain dinnerware circa 1940, was recently donated to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History’s collection. In addition her family’s wok circa 1949, which was part of the Museum of Food and Drink’s Chow exhibit will also be relocated to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History where it will serve as a significant artifact of Chinese American culinary history.
Grace’s accolades include a James Beard Digital Award and Webby Award nomination for her video comedy Wok Therapist, a James Beard Award for her cookbook Stir-Frying to the Sky’s Edge and a James Beard nomination for The Breath of a Wok video. She has won five IACP awards including the prestigious 2019 Culinary Classics Award for The Breath of a Wok, (the “youngest” book to be inducted into the Cookbook Hall of Fame). The Breath of a Wok also won the Jane Grigson Award for distinguished scholarship. She is the author of The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen, winner of the IACP Best International Cookbook Award. Grace is the 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. Grace’s video, Chinese Trinidadian Chicken with Mango Chutney, won the 2017 IACP Digital Media Single Food-Focused Video Award.
In 2016, Grace was named one of the “40 for 40” Women honorees for the American Museum of Natural History’s Margaret Mead Film Festival. Her family’s wok, which dates back to 1949, was displayed at the Museum of Food and Drink’s Chow exhibit and will soon be relocated to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History where it will continue to serve as a significant artifact of Chinese American culinary history.
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. Her work was showcased at the Museum of Chinese in America’s exhibition, Sour, Sweet, Bitter Spicy. 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 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 wrote 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 stir-fry-wok cooking group. She has taught healthy stir-frying in cooking schools and spas throughout the U.S., including her popular Craftsy The Art of Stir-Frying online class which has reached over 12,000 students.