SINGAPORE: MasterChef UK Gregg Wallace has spoken up amid the backlash over his comments about chicken rendang on the BBC cooking show.
On Wednesday (Apr 4), the 53-year-old appeared with fellow judge John Torode on the TV programme Good Morning Britain (GMB), where he clarified what he meant when he said that the "chicken skin (wasn't) crispy".
"I said the skin wasn't crispy. I didn't mean it should be fried, like a fried chicken," said Wallace. "What I meant was it wasn't cooked and it simply wasn't."
"But you said crispy!" prompted GMB host Kate Garraway, with Wallace replying: "But rest assured, the best cooks will always go through."
Wallace's comments came several days after news broke that Malaysia-born contestant Zaleha Kadir Olpin had been eliminated from the show. Judges were unhappy with her dish of nasi lemak with chicken rendang, picking specifically on the way the chicken was prepared.
"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," Wallace was reported to have complained.
Online, Malaysians were united in fury and disbelief over Wallace's suggestion that the chicken in rendang should be crispy, including Prime Minister Najib Razak, to which Wallace said: "Oh for crying out loud!"
Chiming in on the GMB show, Torode highlighted his affinity to Malaysian food through his 10-part series on the Good Food Channel.
"I do a whole series on Malaysia," he said. "Malaysia food is fantastic."
When Garraway said, "You should know then!", he replied: "I do know it. That's why I told her it wasn't cooked enough."
The two judges agreed that Zaleha was eliminated from MasterChef UK not because her rendang was not crispy, but because "the other cooks were better".