Former “MasterChef” competitor accused of plagiarism
Bloomsbury cookbook publisher Absolute has stopped selling former ‘MasterChef’ candidate Elizabeth Haigh’s first cookbook following allegations she plagiarized content from another cook.
The cookbook, titled “Makan,” was Haigh’s first foray into the publishing world and was originally published in July. The Singaporean-British chef is known for participating in the BBC’s “MasterChef” in 2011 and owning a London restaurant called Mei Mei.
As reported by Eater LondonSharon Wee, who published her cookbook “Growing Up in Nonya’s Kitchen” in 2012, accused Haigh of plagiarizing several of her recipes and personal anecdotes last week in an Instagram statement. In the post, the author explained that she wrote the book “in loving memory” of her mother and shared many of her personal recipes. She also interviewed older parents and shared her family history in the book.
“So I was shocked to find that some recipes and other content in my book had been copied or paraphrased without my consent in Makan by Elizabeth Haigh, and I immediately brought this matter to the attention of the publisher of the book. , Bloomsbury Absolute. I am grateful that Bloomsbury has responded to my concerns by removing Makan from circulation, “she wrote.
When contacted by TODAY Food, Wee declined to comment, citing “legal reasons” and directed us to her Instagram statement. According to Eater, his cookbook will be reissued in November. Haigh and Bloomsbury Absolute did not immediately respond to the comments.
Wee isn’t the only one accusing Haigh of using her content in “Makan”. Many bookstores around the world quickly began to hear about the situation and shared their support for the author on social media.
Los Angeles Bookstore Now Serving encouraged its customers to apply for store credit for “Makan” if they wanted to return the book.
New Zealand cookbook store Cook the Books shared the following sentiment on their Instagram page: “Passing off someone else’s recipes as your own is one thing. Appropriating their personal memories is unforgivable.
The store too shared the post on Facebook and Bee Yinn Low, a recipe writer who runs the Rasa Malaysia blog, left the following comment:
“I have a recipe from Ngoh Hiang on my site, the recipe was written by a Singaporean food blogger in 2007/2008. Last week I received a comment from someone accusing me of copying Elizabeth Haigh’s cookbook word-for-word without credit. I was puzzled as I didn’t know who she was last week (I only knew her as Aunt Liz in Uncle Roger’s videos) ” , she wrote.
“If she plagiarized my blog recipe, it means the plagiarism is more extensive than that of the Nyonya cookbook. Maybe she also plagiarized food blogs,” she continued.
Daryl Lim, a poet and critic from Singapore, also joined the conversation, posting several side-by-side comparisons of the two authors’ work on his Instagram page. In an article, he compared the following excerpts from the two books:
- From Wee’s book: “Traditionally, the Nonya used all of their senses when cooking – it was important to assess the color of the sauce, to smell the aroma of the spices, to feel the warmth of the heat. charcoal, listen to the rhythm of the pounding, and above all taste the final product when the cooking is finished. As such, the recipes passed down from generation to generation were inaccurate. The cooking was by guess or what the Nonya called agak-agak. “
- According to Haigh’s book: “Traditionally, Aunts Nonya used all of their senses when cooking. and – the best – constantly tastes. Aunts cooked by agak agak, or “riddles”. “
In a follow-up post, Lim shared several more comparisons between the two books and thanked his subscribers for submitting their own examples.
Eater also spoke to two other sources who said they contacted Bloomsbury in July to compare a “Makan” passage to an excerpt from the 2018 cookbook titled “You and I Eat the Same”, but did not receive any editor’s response.
At the time of publication, Haigh had not publicly addressed the plagiarism allegations, but all posts promoting the book on his social media have been removed.