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Julie Kleeman Wins 2019 Yan-Kit So Award for Food Writers on Asia


We are delighted to announce that Julie Kleeman has won the 2019 Yan-Kit So Award for Food Writers on Asia. 


Kleeman’s winning entry was her proposal for The Tibetan Table, a tribute to an ancient cuisine that has developed in relative isolation. She aims to document the unique culinary traditions of the Tibetan people, spanning home cooking, nomad food, festive occasions, picnics and the food of the Diaspora.

She will use her £2500 award to fund an immersive research trip to multiple locations across the Tibet region.

The Award was presented on 30th September 2019 at a ceremony in China Exchange in central London. Speaking on behalf of the judging panel, Carol Michaelson praised Julie’s efforts to explore and celebrate a cuisine that is relatively unknown. She also highlighted the originality of Julie’s proposal, for a book that will marry detailed cultural enquiry with personal family history.

Julie’s fascination with Tibetan food began when she met chef Tibetan chef Yeshi Jampa.  Yeshi’s cooking, which he learned at home in rural Tibet, was a revelation. They are now married and are proud owners of Taste Tibet, a mobile (nomadic) food stall in Oxford. Through her popular food blog, Julie shares food stories and answers questions posed by her enthusiastic readers.


The entry from Ishita DasGupta, which was shortlisted for this year’s Yan-Kit So Award, was highly commended by the judging panel. In The Land of Sugar, Ishita intends to explore the diverse culinary heritage of Bengal, placing emphasis on home cooking which featured at religious festivals and feasts. She will examine the history of commercial sweet making, which includes numerous regional specialities. As tastes and lifestyles have changed, the popularity of traditional recipes has declined. Ishita aims to document those at risk of being lost.



Hosted by the Oxford Cultural Collective, The Yan-Kit So Award enables aspiring food writers to fulfil their dreams to research, travel and create original work about any aspect of Asian food.

The Award honours the legacy of Yan-Kit So (1933-2001), one of the most acclaimed writers on Chinese food. A passionate promoter of Asian food, her first book, The Classic Chinese Cookbook, won an André Simon Award and a Glenfiddich Food and Drink Award. Her seminal work, Classical Food of China, made a major contribution to the understanding of Chinese regional food cultures.

Each award winner is an emerging writer who has the ability to enhance our understanding and appreciation of Asian food culture.

The aim of the Award is to support travel and research costs associated with producing an original work intended for publication in print or electronic form, for the English speaking world. This could be a cookery book, or maybe a substantial article for a magazine or journal.

The Award is offered every two years, the next in 2019.The members of the judging panel for the Yan-Kit So Memorial Award for Food Wriers on Asia are:

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.

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