White ‘Masterchef’ Judges Tell Malaysian-Born Contestant Her Chicken Rendang Isn’t Good Enough

John Torode and Gregg Wallace told contestant Zaleha Kadir Olpin her take on the traditional dish was “a mistake.”
Photo via BBC. Composite by MUNCHIES Staff.

We regret to inform you that white people are at it again. A Malaysian-born Masterchef contestant has been eliminated from the competition show after two white judges decided that her chicken rendang wasn’t cooked properly. Hm.

As the Evening Standard reports, Zaleha Kadir Olpin cooked the traditional Malaysian dish on a recent episode of the BBC cooking show, along with an accompaniment of nasi lemak. Despite Olpin being born in Malaysia, and cooking the dish using her mother’s recipe, it wasn’t good enough for judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace.


In the episode, which aired two weeks ago, Torode and Wallace criticised the texture of Olpin’s chicken. “I like your rendang flavour, that’s like a coconut sweetness,” commented Wallace. “However, the chicken skin isn’t crispy, it can’t be eaten, but all the sauces on the skin I can’t eat.”

Torode agreed with Wallace, saying, “I think the chicken rendang on the side is a mistake. It hasn’t had enough time to cook down and become lovely and soft and fall apart.”

As a result of this judgement, Olpin was eliminated from the competition. In an Instagram post uploaded last week, the amateur chef said that she was “gutted to be eliminated on #masterchefuk but I stand by my traditional way of cooking Nasi Lemak,” and that she would “not change it for the world.”

Zaleha Kadir Olpin's Malaysian dish, including the chicken rendang. Photo via BBC.

Many Malaysian viewers have criticised Torode and Wallace's thoughts on Olpin's dish. One tweeted, “I have never in my life eaten a chicken rendang which is crispy and sauce not stuck to the skin. Either judges at MasterChef UK had wrong rendang in UK or they bare just plain ignorant on how to cook certain dishes.”

Another Twitter user wrote, “Only white people will have the audacity to tell you that that’s not the way to do something even though it has been done that way for decades and an entire culture eats it that way.”

Responding to the controversy over Olpin’s elimination, a Masterchef spokesperson told MUNCHIES, “at no point did Gregg mention that the dish should have crispy skin,” and that “Gregg wasn’t suggesting that the dish should traditionally have crispy skin—he was saying that he couldn’t experience the flavours of the dish as it was presented.”

Bake Off, anyone?