About Michelle Tam

Michelle Tam’s recipes are often Asian- influenced, often California-inspired, and always popping with flavor.

-The Kitchn

Michelle has a magical way of creating vibrant, health-conscious dishes that are packed with flavor explosions.

-Chef Melissa King

The Martha Stewart of Paleo

-The New York Times
A photo of Michelle Tam of Nom Nom Paleo, an Asian woman in glasses, cooking a stir-fry on a range in a home kitchen

Hello! My name’s Michelle Tam. I’m a 3x New York Times bestselling cookbook author, award-winning recipe developer, and food lover. I think about food so much that it borders on obsession; even when I’m enjoying a meal, I’m already dreaming about the next one.

My affinity for food started early. As far back as I can remember, I always loved the sights and smells of the kitchen. My mother was (and is) an excellent cook, and as a child, I was her little shadow as she prepared supper each night. From her, I gained a deep, abiding love for magically transforming pantry items into mouth-watering family meals.

My mom, circa 1982.

A FOODIE flavor scientist…

But I also had a long and torrid affair with chemically-enhanced, laboratory-concocted “foods” that continued into my college years. At Berkeley, I majored in Nutrition & Food Science because I aspired to become a flavor scientist and create lab-concocted “Frankenfoods” for a living. (Not kidding.) At the time, the faculty was packed with world-class biochemists and food researchers—all of whom were strong advocates of the low-fat dogma. Like a sponge, I soaked it all in, and modified my diet accordingly. Steak and eggs were out; bagels and crackers were in.

Somehow, through it all, my love of great food remained—and even blossomed. I met a boy in school (who later became my co-conspirator and husband), and together, we ate our way around the San Francisco Bay Area. We blew our student loan checks on lavish meals, but also sought out ethnic grub whenever we could, from fresh sashimi and Indian chaat to hearty burritos and Eritrean stews. I was in foodie heaven.

Slowly, through the course of many great meals, I came to the realization that food quality matters. Though I still subscribed to the “fat-is-bad” conventional wisdom, I began making regular visits to local farmers’ markets and seeking out fresh, locally-grown whole foods. Frankly, it just tasted better than the processed junk I’d been eating before. I no longer dreamed of spending my life developing flavor compounds for food conglomerates.

…WHO becAme a professional drug dealer.

I moved to San Francisco to earn a doctorate in clinical pharmacy at UC San Francisco just as the Bay Area food scene exploded. (Weirdly enough, years later, UCSF gave me an award for quitting pharmacy!) My sister was a professional chef in some of the best kitchens in the city, so I was fully plugged into the local restaurant scene, eagerly following the comings and goings of San Francisco’s foodie hotspots. And when I’d fly to the East Coast to visit my boyfriend, we descended like vultures on New York City restaurants. Trips to Europe or Asia? Forget seeing the sights; I was there to eat.

In Europe, I spent more time checking out restaurant menus than museums.

Appropriately enough, my now-husband proposed to me in the middle of a lavish ten-course meal at a Michelin-starred restaurant. (It was such a shock that it’s the only chef’s tasting menu I have no recollection of eating.)

After our wedding, we settled in San Francisco, where my husband toiled as a litigator in a downtown law firm, and I got a job working as a night shift hospital pharmacist. With well-paying (but hectic) jobs and no kids, we ate our way through the city. Exercise was relegated to weekends…if we managed to haul our butts off the couch.

feelING blah…

It wasn’t until after we had kids and moved to the ’burbs that I took notice of the muffin-top that was poking up out of my waistband. After Big-O and Lil-O were born, I wanted to ditch the loose flesh—and get stronger, too. So I did what any crazy-busy working mom would do: I subscribed to fitness magazines and ordered a bunch of home exercise videos. For well over a year, I did heart-pounding cardio moves in the garage every night. I counted calories. I lost weight.

But I was also starving and miserable and cranky. I wasn’t any stronger, yet I was achy all the time. And my muffin-top didn’t go away.


In the meantime, my better half had embarked on a mission of his own to improve his fitness, and stumbled upon the Paleo diet. At first, he and I shared a good laugh about it. No pasta? No heart-healthy whole grains? Ha! How utterly stupid! But the more my husband looked into ancestral eating, the more he became convinced of its effectiveness. He gradually transitioned to a Paleo dietary template, while I sat back and scoffed. I knew better—after all, I’m the one with a nutrition degree!

To my surprise, however, he didn’t just survive on the Paleo diet—he thrived. Exercising and eating Paleo, he was suddenly in better shape than he was in college. His blood work and body composition were much improved, and he was savoring all the stuff I secretly wanted to eat. Meanwhile, I was suffering through night after night of hour-long workouts and obsessively recording my calories, and I didn’t feel any healthier. My bathroom scale told me I’d shed some pounds, but my food cravings were off the scale.

I had to give this Paleo thing a try.

Why I went Paleo

In the summer of 2010, I made the decision to go Paleo—and when I decide to do something, I commit all the way. I immediately cut out all grains, legumes, sugar, and processed food from my diet, and read everything I could about the science behind the Paleo diet. I quit doing all the crazy cardio and starting doing CrossFit. I was all-in.

A fit Asian woman is walking around an outdoor Crossfit gym surrounded by kettlebells and medicine balls.

And you know what? I feel great! After working graveyard shifts for more than a decade, I’d been mentally and physically lagging—but once I changed my diet, I found that my energy levels improved significantly, and my moods were sunnier, too. I was a nicer mommy.

Paleo’s the only approach that’s managed to improve my body composition and fuel me with enough energy to wrangle two small boys, hold down a full-time night shift job(I quit in 2014 after 12 years of working graveyard shifts at the hospital!), cook for a houseful of hungry cavepeople, lift heavy(ish) stuff in the gym, and maintain a food website.

Birth of Nom Nom Paleo

A half-year after switching to a Paleo approach to nutrition, I started Nom Nom Paleo to chronicle my culinary adventures. Since the fall of 2010, I’ve been regularly posting recipes and writing about how to stay Paleo when eating out. I offer kitchen tips and review my favorite cooking gadgets. I’m all about the lazy, so I’m constantly looking for shortcuts to deliciousness.

Nom Nom Paleo is my passion

Nom Nom Paleo has grown from a personal blog featuring embarrassingly amateurish photography to something resembling a real food site. I’m proud that my little corner of the Internet has been recognized with awards, including a Best Food Blog Award by Saveur Magazine.

I’ve also had the good fortune to evolve Nom Nom Paleo into more than just a food website; Nom Nom Paleo is now also a two-time Webby Award winning cooking app, an award-winning podcast, award-winning spice blends, and three New York Times bestselling cookbooks, starting with the James Beard Award nominated Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans and followed up by Ready or Not! and Nom Nom Paleo: Let’s Go!. But I’m most proud of Nom Nom Paleo’s impact—however small it may be—in home kitchens and dinner tables around the world.

Three Nom Nom Paleo cookbooks splayed out on a white surface

I don’t do all of this alone: When my husband’s not at work doing his lawyer thing, he helps me with Nom Nom Paleo, doing all the photography, design, and illustration work for the blog, our cookbooks, and our app. He’s also my podcast co-host and producer. I’m not kidding when I say we’re a true mom ’n pop operation!

Photograph of a smiling Asian couple in an airy, modern kitchen; the woman is in an apron and stirring ingredients in a mixing bowl while the man is sitting on the countertop holding a drink.

Here’s a quick video from Chowhound that gives you a sense of who we are:

While we’re no longer strict Paleo adherents (to be honest, we never were sticklers), we still believe in Paleo as a great starting point and a healthy way of eating that prioritizes whole, unprocessed, nutrient-rich foods like vegetables, sustainably sourced animal protein, healthy fats, fruit, nuts, and seeds. Contrary to popular (mis)conception, Paleo isn’t about mindlessly replicating the diets of prehistoric humans. It’s about enjoying wholesome, nourishing foods and avoiding those that are more likely to trigger inflammation, cause digestive problems, and derail our natural metabolic processes.

Okay—enough rambling. We hope you enjoy reading Nom Nom Paleo as much as I enjoy eating. Dig in!

What? Not satisfied? For more information, subscribe to my newsletter, and get my New York Times best-selling cookbooks, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2013), Ready or Not! (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2017), and Nom Nom Paleo: Let’s Go! (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2022)!