Elizabeth Haigh, a former Masterchef US participant and a Michelin star-chef has received flak for allegedly plagiarising recipes and personal anecdotes from a Singaporean cook.
Haigh’s book ‘Makan’, which was published in May this year, garnered widespread praise from popular figures like Nigella Lawson. However, Singaporean cook from New York, Sharon Wee claimed that the Michelin chef “copied or paraphrased” recipes and anecdotes from her 2012 book ‘Cooking in a Nonya Kitchen’.
Wee alleged that Haigh, who also has Singaporean Chinese heritage, has lifted at least 15 recipes and personal stories.
“My book Growing Up in a Nonya Kitchen, first published in 2012, is both a cookbook and a memoir in which I recreated my mother’s personalised recipes, interviewed older relatives, researched my Nonya heritage, and recounted my family history,” Wee said in a statement.
I wrote my book in loving memory of my mother. I credit her and her peers for their anecdotes, recipes and cooking tips. This was their story. Here is my statement. pic.twitter.com/yyQAndqmeJ
— Sharon Wee (@nonyaglobal) October 6, 2021
The chef added, “I was therefore distressed to discover that certain recipes and other content from 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 book’s publisher, Bloomsbury Absolute.
“I am grateful that Bloomsbury has responded to my concerns by withdrawing Makan from circulation.”
Haigh, on the other hand, is yet to release a statement on the issue.
Here’s how netizens reacted:
I am so sorry Sharon. This is not acceptable. Appalled at the silence of so many. The words written by you are yours. If the publishers did not use a plagiarism software (I know-it’s more common for academic work)-once aware-their apology should have been immediate & public.
— Asma Khan (@Asma_KhanLDN) October 10, 2021
Plagiarizing and profiting from it. I’m really happy that the publisher is now doing the right thing.
— CA Won ☀️ (@MelanieWdwrth) October 9, 2021
As a fellow nonya, I thank you for taking the time to do all the work involved with interviewing and recording stories.
This is invaluable work and I’m so sorry that someone has tried to profit from your family and their history.
— Deb Ong 翁诗美 (@nihilistnomya) October 9, 2021