MasterChef UK star's cookbook pulled amid allegations of plagiarism by Singaporean author
Elizabeth Haigh has been accused of poaching recipes from author Sharon Wee in her book, Makan. Wee revealed that some of Haigh’s recipes and anecdotes bear striking resemblance to the ones published in her 2012 cookbook and memoir, Growing Up In A Nonya Kitchen.
A recipe book by British celebrity chef Elizabeth Haigh has been withdrawn from circulation following allegations of plagiarism by Singaporean author Sharon Wee.
Haigh, who appeared on MasterChef UK in 2011, has since become a prominent voice in London’s food industry. After winning a Michelin star for her work at east London restaurant Pidgin, she went on to establish Kaizen House and Singaporean restaurant Mei Mei.
The 33-year-old chef published her recipe book titled Makan in July this year. Hailing to her Singaporean-British heritage, Haigh’s book claimed to be a compilation of Singaporean Nonya “recipes that have been handed down through many generations of (her) family”. Its initial publication was met with widespread acclaim, with popular food writer Nigella Lawson saying that she “wanted to cook everything in the book”.
However, Singaporean author Sharon Wee recently revealed that some of Haigh’s recipes and anecdotes bear striking resemblance to the ones published in her 2012 cookbook and memoir, Growing Up In A Nonya Kitchen.
In a statement via Twitter on Oct 6, Wee wrote that she was distressed to discover that “certain recipes and other content from (her) book had been copied or paraphrased without (her) consent”.
Users on social media have pointed out similar excerpts in the two books. According to local author and poet Daryl Lim, Makan not only lifts some of Wee’s personalised recipes, but also replicates her memoirs and personal anecdotes. Lim also noted that Makan contains recipes from other authors and cooking sites as well.
British publisher Bloomsbury Absolute said in a statement released to several media outlets such as The Washington Post, that it has withdrawn the cookbook “due to rights issues”.
Following allegations against Haigh, various cookbook shops around the world have pulled the title from their shelves. New Zealand’s Cook the Books wrote on its social media page that “to pass someone else’s recipes off as your own is one thing. To appropriate their personal memoir is unforgivable”.
Los Angeles-based cookbook and culinary shop Now Serving LA has also dropped the title, with a statement on Instagram saying that Haigh and her editorial team should be held accountable.