MasterChef judges attempt to justify controversial chicken rendang comments

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MasterChef judges John Torode and Gregg Wallace have responded to the criticism they received, after telling a contestant her chicken rendang it wasn’t ‘crispy’ enough, despite the dish not needing to be.

After this week’s show saw Zaleha Kadir Olpin cook up an authentic Malaysian chicken rendang, judges Torode, 52, and Wallace, 53, were critical of the finished product which saw people blast their lack of Southeastern Asian food.

The show’s judges were slammed on social media for ignorance. (BBC)
The show’s judges were slammed on social media for ignorance. (BBC)

The backlash even came from Malaysian PM Najib Razak, who asked his 4 million Twitter followers: ‘Where there are people eating crispy chicken ‘rendang’?

But now the pair have appeared on today’s Good Morning Britain to discuss their decision and clear up the Chickenrendanggate controversy.

‘What happened was part of her dish was a rendang,’ Gregg began, ‘and I said that the skin wasn’t crispy.’

‘I didn’t mean it should be fried, like fried chicken. What I meant was, it wasn’t cooked and it simply wasn’t cooked,’ he tried to explain.

The judges appeared on GMB to explain themselves. (ITV)
The judges appeared on GMB to explain themselves. (ITV)

However, people took issue with his initial ‘crispy’ comment and didn’t complain about the dish being fried, as Gregg suggests. The problem arose when the judges didn’t appear to know that chicken rendang is meant to be served exactly how Zeleha presented it – that’s why they came under fire.

‘But rest assured, the best cooks will always go through!’ he said.

That may be the case, but it wasn’t what people were getting angry about.

The judges appeared on GMB to explain themselves. (ITV)
The judges appeared on GMB to explain themselves. (ITV)

John then chipped in: ‘That’s the point, the best cooks go through. And if you look at the final eight, the food that they’re producing is unbelievable,’ he said to justify the pair’s decision to eliminate Zaleha.

‘I did a whole series on Malaysia. Malaysian food is fantastic. I absolutely love it. I said to her, “It wasn’t cooked enough”. That’s what I said. I exactly did say that,’ John continued.

The judges appeared on GMB to explain themselves. (ITV)
The judges appeared on GMB to explain themselves. (ITV)

Gregg admitted that his use of the word ‘crispy’ was incorrect and actually meant something else while declaring she simply wasn’t as good as the other chefs involved in the show: ‘She didn’t go out because her skin wasn’t crispy,’ Gregg clarified. ‘She went out because the other cooks were better.’

‘If you look at it, you can tell the skin just wasn’t cooked. It’s white and flappy. “Crispy” was the wrong word. But the skin wasn’t cooked.’

Gregg and John tried to justify their decision. (ITV)
Gregg and John tried to justify their decision. (ITV)

No doubt the judges will come under further heat from people unhappy with their comments and display of what some deemed ‘ignorance’ when it comes to Asian cuisine.

Catch MasterChef weeknights, from 8pm, on BBC One and Good Morning Britain weekdays, from 6am, on ITV1.

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