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Yan-Kit So Award


The Yan-Kit So Memorial Award for Food Writers on Asia, from the Oxford Cultural Collective



Secure a bursary of up to £2500 to undertake a research trip to Asia, to support the production of your first cookbook.


For enquires and to discuss possible applications, contact the YKS Awards Committee (YKSAward@gmail.com).


This is your opportunity to fulfil a dream to research, travel and write an original work about food and food culture from any corner of Asia – Iran to Japan, Indonesia to the Central Asian Republics.

The Yan-Kit So Memorial Award for Food Writers on Asia is inspired by the work of Yan-Kit So (1933-2001), arguably Britain’s leading authority on Chinese cuisine.  A passionate promoter of Asian food, her first book The Classic Chinese Cookbook (1984) went on to win prestigious awards such as the André Simon Book Award and the Glenfiddich Food and Drink Award.  Her seminal work Classical Food of China (1992) made a major contribution towards the understanding of Chinese regional food culture.

The Award is given as a bursary, which is taken from funds raised by a group of volunteers in Yan-Kit’s memory.

The aim of the award is to enable an emerging writer to undertake a research trip to Asia, to support the production of an original piece of writing, intended for publication, which will enhance our understanding and appreciation of Asian food culture.  This original work should be a cookbook, written in English.

The winning applicant is expected to lead the effort to secure a publishing contract for their proposed book. The YKS committee and OCC Trust will offer advice, guidance and support, but neither bears any responsibility for helping the winning applicant secure a publishing contract. While securing such a contract is the primary objective, we accept that it will not be possible for every winning applicant to publish a book. In such circumstances, the winning applicant must be willing to deliver a substantial piece of written work, intended for publication, within 36 months of completing the trip, with the focus agreed by the YKS committee.

The maximum bursary available is £2,500. The sum awarded may vary depending on the scale of the winning project. The applicant must currently reside in the UK and must not have already published a cookery book.

The Award is offered every two years, the next in 2025. The current members of the judging panel for the Yan-Kit So Memorial Award for Food Writers on Asia are:

  • Fuchsia Dunlop, cook, food writer and broadcaster;
  • Bee Wilson, food writer and activist;
  • Romy Gill, chef, food writer and broadcaster;
  • Carol Michaelson, part-time curator of Chinese Art at the British Museum and freelance curator and writer on Chinese art;
  • Paul Bloomfield, chef, corporate caterer and Patron of The Oxford Cultural Collective; and
  • Donald Sloan, Chair of The Oxford Cultural Collective.


The Award is jointly administered by Betty Yao MBE and Freya Aitken-Turff.   The Award was launched in 2008 stemming from an original idea by Betty Yao to commemorate the life and work of her friend Yan-Kit So through her twin passions for food and travel. The Award’s founding Patron is David Thompson, distinguished chef, writer and restaurateur.


To learn more about the work of Ishita DasGuspta, winner of the 2023 award, follow this link


The award is offered every two years. Previous winners:

2021 Maria Garbett-Lucero, food of the Philippines

2019 Julie Kleeman, Tibetan cuisine

2017 Samar Khatiwala, Gujrati food

2015 Celia Plender, Regional Japanese Cuisine

2013 Mirabelle Dominé-Walley, Vegetarian Food in Vietnam


The Yan-Kit So Memorial Award for Food Writers on Asia is sustained by philanthropic donations from those with an interest in promoting Asian food culture. To discuss making a donation please contact Donald Sloan (dsloan@oxfordculturalcollective.com).

All donations are made to The Oxford Cultural Collective Trust, which has charitable status (registered charity 1191568).  Please email dsloan@oxfordculturalcollective.com for more information. 


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