NPR

Why 'MasterChef UK' Is Uniting Malaysians In Outrage

When a Malaysian contestant was booted off the cooking show because her take on chicken rendang, a classic Malay dish, wasn't "crispy" enough, it sparked a controversy highlighting cultural ignorance.

It's not often that chicken skin ignites an international controversy, but leave it to a competitive cooking television show to do just that.

MasterChef UK judge Gregg Wallace found himself in the spotlight following the airing last week of an episode in which he criticized contestant Zaleha Kadir Olpin's rendition of a classic Malaysian dish, chicken rendang. "I like your rendang flavor, that's like a coconut sweetness," he said. "But the chicken skin isn't crispy. It can't be eaten, but all the sauce is on the skin I can't eat."

And this is where things went terribly wrong, unexpectedly uniting people across Malaysia and Indonesia, spawning a and an , and drawing sharp criticism from Malaysia's foreign minister, Datuk Seri Anifah Aman, who accused Wallace of "whitesplaining." The controversy is even being called "RendangGate," and it prompted British High Commissioner Vicki Treadell, a Malaysia native, to to the judges, "#Rendang is

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