The MasterChef UK judge touched a nerve with his feedback. — Picture via Twitter/JohnTorode1PETALING JAYA, April 2 — John Torode turned the heat up on an argument over Malaysian food that led to tempers boiling on social media.
The celebrity chef initially stirred the pot when Zaleha Kadir Olpin, a Malaysian contestant on MasterChef UK, was dubiously criticised and eliminated from the show for her nasi lemak with chicken rendang dish.
Torode, who judges alongside Gregg Wallace, was unimpressed with Zaleha’s entry, saying the chicken should be “really soft and falling apart”.
Wallace irked most however when he commented “the skin wasn’t crispy,” adding that the sauce on the chicken made it difficult to eat.
The pair received backlash from Malaysians who argued Torode and Wallace did not appreciate the traditional preparation of the dish.
She later declared her pride for the nasi lemak and chicken rendang by promising to stand by her method for cooking the “nation’s favourite.”
Even Malaysian celebrity chef Datuk Redzuawan Ismail, better known as Chef Wan, jumped to the Zaleha’s defence, saying it was impossible to make what is essentially a stew with spices and coconut milk while maintaining a crispy chicken skin.
He told New Straits Times making the meat any softer is “overcooking the chicken rendang. Go understand how to cook a traditional rendang and I challenge him and see if he gets his skin crispy.”
Just as the issue started to simmer, Torode fired up social media users once more in an attempt to address the debate.
He first contested social media user @ShannonChowz who argued rendang was a “classic Malaysian dish” that shouldn’t be presented differently to appease the judges’ preference.
Torode hit back by questioning rendang’s origin, a topic that naturally stokes flames in the region.
He then went one better, by replying another user and suggested that the dish was Indonesian before signing off with “Namaste”, an expression native to India.
Twitter users from Malaysia and Indonesia leaped out of the pot, mob blazing.
It turns out Torode has a well-informed impression of Malaysian flavours having presented a 10-part series; John Torode’s Malaysian Adventure for the UK’s Good Food channel which aired in 2015.
On yer bike, Torode! — Picture via YouTube/UKTVThat might have put him in good stead for tasting Zaleha’s dish as Torode traversed the land in an exploration of Malaysia’s best tastes.
Here’s a pinch of salt — Torode, unsurprisingly, encountered rendang on his travels, albeit duck as opposed to chicken.
Still, the dish was discussed, the “thick mixture” of the creamy texture included. Torode loved it of course.