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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 2023 award submission deadline is 23:59 on 30th April 2023.

The Award is offered every two years, the next in 2023. The 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 Maria-Garbutt-Lucero, winner of the award in 2021 award, and runner-up Noby Leong, 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. 





In your application, submitted online, you are required to include:

  • Your contact details.
  • Project title.
  • Summary of project proposal (maximum 150 words)
  • Full details of project proposal (maximum 1000 words)
  • Summary of your appropriate skills and experience (maximum 500 words)
  • Provisional budget and timetable for your planned research trip, using standard template.
  • Contact details for two referees.




  • The award is open to UK residents over the age of 18 only.
  • Those who have already published a cookery book are not eligible to enter.
  • The proposal must be the work of a single author.
  • The proposal must fall within the geographical area of Asia from Iran to Japan and from the Central Asian Republics to Indonesia
  • The proposal should be for a cookbook intended to be published in print or electronic form for the English speaking world.
  • Illustrations and recipes may be included at the author’s discretion.
  • If the travel budget is over the bursary maximum of £2,500 the applicant must agree to fund the outstanding amount.
  • Applicants understand that materials included in the application will not be returned.
  • The maximum amount to be awarded is £2,500 and will be evaluated according to the winner’s proposal and budget.
  • Neither the Yan-Kit So Memorial Award committee nor the Oxford Cultural Collective Trust bears no responsibility in the seeking or negotiation of any resulting publishing contract that might arise from the proposal.
  • The Yan-Kit So Memorial Award committee must be notified of any resulting publications and if in print form, be supplied with two complimentary copies.
  • Within 12 months of receiving the Award, the winner must complete their travel.
  • The winning applicant is asked to make a presentation in the following 6 months after travel. Arrangements for this presentation will be made by the YKS committee.
  • The winning applicant is expected to lead the effort to secure the publication of the proposed book. The YKS committee will offer advice, guidance and support. The committee requires the winning applicant to produce a substantial piece of work following the research trip funded by the bursary. While we accept that it is not possible for every winning applicant to publish a book, the applicant must be willing to consider and deliver ways for the funded research to be published in some substantial form with the agreement of the committee within 36 months of completing the trip.
  • If the judges conclude there is no entry of sufficient merit then they may abstain from making an Award.
  • The decision of the panel of Judges will be final and they will not engage in correspondence about the merits of particular entries.
  • The applicant agrees to put adequate travel insurance in place if they are successful.
  • The applicant agrees to comply with the YKS Award Covid-19 Travel Policy (provided below)



  • I am over 18
  • I am a UK resident
  • I have never published a cookbook
  • I have provided my correct contact details
  • I have asked my two referees to email YKSAward@gmail.com to explain why they think I am a suitable winner of the bursary
  • I have described my project and my motivation within the required word count
  • I have provided a budget
  • I have provided a timetable
  • I agree to the terms of the YKS covid-19 travel policy
  • I would love to be the successful applicant
  • I understand that the YKS Award judges and administrators will have access to the personal data that I have provided in MY application and that it will be processed to administer my application. I can ask for my data to be deleted at any time.



The Yan Kit So Memorial Award for Food Writers on Asia provides a travel grant for an unpublished writer to visit an Asian country in order to research a cookbook.

During the covid-19 pandemic, applicants must read and acknowledge that they have understood the following terms, which the successful candidate will need to fulfil. You will not put your health or the health of others at risk in pursuit of the YKS Award and your research trip.

The bursary award is a maximum of £2,500. The committee is unable to provide any further funds under any circumstances.

The YKS Committee understand that plans may need to be flexible during the continuing global response to the pandemic. You agree to keep the committee up to date and discuss all changes to your proposed plan before making firm plans.

In accepting the award, you commit to completing the trip. Consider buying flexible tickets that allow for rescheduling in the event of a pandemic-response related change to your travel plans.

It is a requirement of the award that you take out suitable travel insurance as soon as you book any travel arrangements for your research trip. You will need to research and secure suitable policies that reflect the needs of the pandemic and its possible impact on your plans.

You agree to keep up to date with the travel restrictions and comply with any relevant guidelines.

You will comply with all guidelines on covid-19 testing on both your arrival in your chosen country and on return to the UK.

Please factor in the potential need to quarantine on arrival/return from your research trip. This may involve conversations with your employer before you embark on your trip.


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