Michelin star chef Elizabeth High accused of plagiarism in cookbook

Michelin star chef and former MasterChef UK participant Elizabeth High has been accused of plagiarism by American chef Sharon V. In a tweet shared last week, Wei mentioned how Hai’s cookbook Makan copied or interpreted recipes and anecdotes from her 2012 book, Cooking in a Nonya Kitchen. Hai and Wei both share Singapore’s Chinese heritage and the books contain some stories of Asian origin.

Maken’s publisher Bloomsbury took the book out of circulation soon after V made the allegation. Maken was released in May this year. In his tweet, V mentioned, “I have written my book in loving memory of my mother. I credit him and his teammates for their anecdotes, recipes, and cooking tips. This was his story. Here is my statement.”

V’s statement further noted that my book Growing Up in a Nonya Kitchen was first published in 2012. She described it as both a cookbook and a memoir in which she aimed to recreate her mother’s personal recipes. For the book’s content, Wei interviewed older relatives, explored her Nonya heritage, and described her family history, the statement read.

Expressing her views on Hai’s book, Wei said she was distressed to learn that some of the recipes and other ingredients in her book had been “copied or paraphrased” in Maken without her consent. The American chef said he brought the matter to his attention immediately. On behalf of the book’s publisher, Bloomsbury Absolute, V also thanked Bloomsbury for responding to her concerns by taking Maken out of circulation.

Netizens have reacted strongly to the issue. Commenting on V’s tweet, a user wrote, “Hi Sharon, this is a terrible situation, I’m sorry this happened to you. I look forward to trying some of your recipes and reading your book.”

Another chef Zoe Edjonoh commented, “I’m surprised (no) this isn’t more widely reported in mainstream food media. A darling under fire. I wonder whether it’s the ‘writer’ or a ghost.” Was the author who was pulling for credibility – either way, some public comment and an apology by @BloomsburyBooks at the very least.” Zoe also wrote in another comment, “And well done to go public – no point in going up against a celebrity chef and a publishing giant.”

After competing at MasterChef 2011, High won a Michelin star at the Pidgin’s London restaurant. The 33-year-old currently runs Mei Mei Restaurant in the London suburb of Borough Market, which she opened in 2019 to offer Singaporean kopitiyam food. Since allegations were made against his book, Hai has not issued a statement.

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