Masterchef contestant's cookbook title slams Greg Wallace
The judges on Masterchef are notoriously Eurocentric, and Zaleha Kadir Oplin hasn't forgotten
In April 2018, Masterchef judge Gregg Wallace criticised Malaysian contestant Zaleha Kadir Olpin’s chicken rendang. The greengrocer-turned-broadcaster wasn't happy with the texture, saying that the skin should've been crispy. The criticism meant she was kicked out of the competition.
Rendang is a piece of meat — most commonly beef — slow cooked and braised in coconut milk and spice mixture until the liquids evaporate and the meat turns dark brown, tender, caramelised, and infused with rich spices.
One thing that chicken rendang is not, is crispy: Olpin lost her chance at the trophy due to an error on the judge's part. This outraged Malaysians. A BBC Travel article claimed that this misjudgement 'united South-East Asia': #CrispyRendang and #Rendangate were uniting Malaysians and Indonesians, who have a long history of tension, largely around issues of territorial disputes, colonialism and nationalism.
Signs like this were seen on cinema boards:
Even the Malaysian prime minister got involved to confirm that rendang is not supposed to be crispy.
Four months after the event, Olpin told Singapore’s New Paper that she had 'moved on'.
I'm finding that hard to believe though, because she has just released her debut cookbook in the UK, and named it, 'My Rendang Isn't Crispy'.
This Twitter user puts it best:
Two years on and she's not letting this one lie. It's inevitable that choosing two Eurocentric food critics results in blind spots and inaccuracies, but it must be infuriating to lose out as a result of the judges' ignorance. Other recipes include: 'some people like crunchy risotto', 'my cake hasn't sunk' and 'trust me, it's supposed to taste like that'.