10 Facts About The MasterChef UK Crispy Rendang Chicken Saga


Forget global warming, animal extinctions or even the Kardashians’ existence on this planet; there’s a more pressing controversy that’s recently got everyone talking all panicked, and several key figures in the political scene all crispy.

And the abomination in question?

Is it wrong for rendang chicken to be non-crispy?

Image: Giphy

I can see that look of disbelief on your face, and believe me; I was utterly bamboozled myself. Shocking stuff.

So without further ado, here are not one, not twenty, but ten facts to satisfy your curiosity about the the world-shattering, pants dropping and tantalising MasterChef UK Crispy Rendang Chicken Saga!

1. What’s it all about?

It all started when Masterchef UK contestant Zaleha Kadir Olpin cooked up a plate of Nasi Lemak for the judges.

(Now, lest you’re unaware, Masterchef (original) is a BBC television competitive cooking show that pits cooks against one another. It has taken the world by storm, spawning multiple versions internationally including the US, which coincidentally stars the ever-polite Gordon Ramsay)


At first glance, it looks perfect, whether it be the presentation, style or even the symmetrically pleasing bowl of rice. The judges, seemingly thinking the same thing, took a bite.

At this point, Ms Zaleha had a nervous smile going on.

Image: Masterchef UK

They took careful bites out of the sambal prawns and ikan bilis and complimented the sweet and savoury taste. Things seemed to be going well for the Malaysian-born cook.

Then the judges started on the Rendang Chicken, and it all went downhill from there.

2. It’s not crispy? Screw you

After taste-testing the chicken, the judges looked at her.

“I like the rendang flavour, there’s a coconut sweetness. However, the chicken skin isn’t crispy. It can’t be eaten and all the sauce is on the skin so I can’t eat it,” Mr Wallace reportedly complained.

Another judge, Mr Torode, deemed Ms Zaleha’s dish a “mistake” and ruled that the chicken was not “cooked down” enough to become “lovely and soft”.

At this point, Ms Zaleha had an expression that you and I are probably adopting right here, right now.

Image: Free Malaysia Today

If I was her, I’d be thinking, “What talking you? Chicken skin need crispy then can eat? You think this one is KFC ah?”

But, of course, that wasn’t what she thought. Probably.

You can watch the video below:

3. Malaysians blew up

Naturally, Ms Zahela’s fellow countrymen were soon after the all-knowing judges’ throats.


“God, give me the confidence of a white man who believes he knows how to make a Malaysian dish better than a Malaysian woman,” one Malaysian wrote on Twitter.

“This is Chicken Rendang @@JohnTorode1. I don’t know where is the crispy part? Can u tell me? #crispyrendang,” tweeted @AlauddinAniq.

Another user, Cikno, posted: “I have never in my life eaten a chicken rendang which is crispy.”

But Facebook user Jin Wee was perhaps the most ‘outspoken’ about it.

“As a Malaysian, if I could, I would personally go to the show and rendang their head. Uncultured swine, doesn’t know the variety of cuisine and claims to be Masterchef?” wrote Facebook user Jin Wee.

4. And it wasn’t just the Malaysians

As it turns out, Indonesians and Singaporeans too, started criticising the judges amidst the controversy.


One social media user wrote: “To the judges of MasterChef UK, I’m from Singapore. Singapore is a mix of eastern and western culture. As much as I love western cuisine, I also love Asian cuisine. Your decision demonstrates that you lack knowledge of Asian cuisine. Chicken rendang is not supposed to be crispy.”

A Jakarta-based critic added: “We should be proud of defending rendang’s dignity over ridiculous statements made by an ignorant caucasian chef that rendang should be ‘crispy’.”

Never knew Rendang could unite countries, but hey you learn something new every day.

5. Even Malaysian’s leaders felt the need to intervene

“Who eats chicken rendang with ‘crispy chicken’?” Prime Minister Najib Razak tweeted on Tuesday (April 3).

Image: Mohd Najib Tun Razak Twitter

Foreign Minister Anifah Aman, meanwhile, wrote on Facebook: “It is amusing when foreigners try to teach Malaysians about their own traditional foods. I wonder if this is a form of ‘whitesplaining’ that you hear about on social media.”


Former Malaysia Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad also joined the fray, with a rather subtle dig at the judges’ intelligence.

Image: chedetofficial Twitter

The British High Commissioner to Malaysia herself has something to say regarding the matter too.

Image: VickiTreadell Twitter Page

Gotta say; it speaks volumes when a commissioner knows more about food than a judge on a televised cooking show. #justsaying.

6. Calls for rectification

It wasn’t just subtle insults and digs though; some wanted justice served.

In an Instagram post, Malaysian celebrity Chef Wan said Ms Zaleha was eliminated “due to the wrong reason” and that the two judges had “embarrassed Zaleha” and “ruined her participation”.

Chef Wan also urged Mr Torode and Mr Wallace to restore Ms Zaleha’s spot in the competition and “sincerely apologise” to her in public.

Image: _chefwan58 Instagram

A Facebook page “Justice for Chicken Rendang” has also been established to collect signatures for a petition demanding an apology from the two judges.

Image: Justice for Chicken Rendang Facebook Page

7. Ms Zaleha

And while everyone has been busy fanning the flames, the woman at the centre of it has strictly stood by her own beliefs.

Image: z.olphin Instagram


Gutted to be eliminated on #masterchefuk but I stand by my traditional way of cooking Nasi Lemak. Will not change it for the world. The memories of my amazing time at Masterchef kitchen will forever stay with me. Thank you so much for all your support and good wishes. As my friend said, what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger! Thank you again xxx 

I don’t really salute people in general, but Ms Zaleha has proved to be an exceptional case.

Image: Giphy

8. Namaste?

In response to the overwhelming wave of flattering comments, Mr Torode tried to sweep his mistake under the rugs.


Image: John Torode Twitter


Maybe Rendang is Indonesian !! Love this !! Brilliant how excited you are all getting … Namaste

What ensued was a half-assed apology of sorts that proves that he doesn’t really give a rat’s fart, seeing how Namaste isn’t Indonesian. Heck, it isn’t even Malaysian.

It’s a greeting used in India.

Makes you wonder what his PR manager is doing. Gymming, probably.

9. Memes

It seems that it’s not all harsh comments, as several users have taken to memes and comics to express their anger.

Incidentally, some are downright hilarious.

Image: Rais LR Facebook Page
Image: Chancil Chan Facebook

Even our own KFC was in on the joke!

Image: KFC Facebook Page
Image: KFC Facebook Page

10. Masterchef UK has spoken out

So if you recall in the 8th point, Mr Torode tried to ‘apologise’ for his mistake.

And now, it seems that Masterchef UK judge Gregg Wallace did not actually “suggest that chicken rendang should be crispy”, according to a representative from the cooking show.

This despite him saying earlier on:

“I like the rendang flavour, there’s a coconut sweetness. However, the chicken skin isn’t crispy. It can’t be eaten and all the sauce is on the skin so I can’t eat it.”

Image: Giphy

According to a report in The Telegraph on Wednesday (4 April), a spokesperson for Masterchef said:

“MasterChef has always celebrated international cuisine and on this occasion, our judges’ comments were relevant to the dish that had been cooked on the show.

“Gregg wasn’t suggesting that the dish should traditionally have crispy skin – he was saying that he couldn’t experience the flavours of the dish as it was presented.”

Image: Giphy

As it turns out, I wasn’t the only one doing an eyebrow dance.

Image: Channel News Asia

But to each his own huh? Meanwhile, I will just let Gordon Ramsay say what everyone probably wants to ask the judges:

Image: WiffleGif

And they would probably say “An idiot crispy sandwich”. #justsaying

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This article was first published on goodyfeed.com

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