A recipe book by MasterChef UK veteran Elizabeth Haigh has been withdrawn from circulation after allegations of plagiarism by Singaporean author Sharon Wee.
Elizabeth is a Singaporean born chef who was on the show in 2011 and has since become a public figure for foodies in London.
She won a Michelin star for her work at Pidgin, a restaurant in east London and went on to pursue the restaurants Kaizen House and Mei Mei.
Her book Makan was published in July this year and she claims the book to be a compilation of Singaporean Nonya “recipes that have been handed down through many generations of my family.”
The infamous food writer, Nigella Lawson, caught wind of its publication and said that she “wanted to cook everything in the book”. Clearly the book was getting a lot of attention.
So much attention that Singaporean author Sharon Wee noticed that some of Elizabeth’s recipes were a tad bit too familiar.
Sharon published her own book in 2012 and memoir Growing Up In A Nonya Kitchen. She chimes in on Twitter to reveal that several recipes and anecdotes on Makan had been lifted from her book without permission.
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
Singaporean poet Daryl Lim also posted on Instagram, stating that Makan not only lifts some of Sharon’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.
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The Vibes pulled quotes to compare the two:
Growing Up In A Nonya Kitchen, Sharon Wee:
“Ginger is thought to pukol angin. Hence, post-natal mothers were given lots of ginger to ‘beat the wind.’”
Makan, Elizabeth Haigh:
“Ginger is thought to have healing properties – pukol angin. This is why postnatal mothers were given lots of ginger to ‘beat the wind’ …”
You don’t need a submission to Turnitin to assess the plagiarism percentage of this one..
British publisher Bloomsbury Absolute has since withdrawn the cookbook “due to rights issues” and did not provide more details.
CNA reported that Los Angeles-based cookbook and culinary shop Now Serving LA has also dropped the title, with a statement saying that Elizabeth and her editorial team should be held accountable.