Former Masterchef UK contestant who sparked ‘Rendangate’ strikes back with her own not-so-subtly titled cookbook

Former Masterchef UK contestant Zaleha Kadir Olpin with her cookbook.
Facebook/That Rendang Lady

Remember the “crispy rendang” fiasco that stirred up an online firestorm in April last year?

Well, the chef at the centre of it all has made a stunning comeback with her very own cookbook that features her controversial chicken rendang among other Malaysian dishes.

Malaysia-born Zaleha Kadir Olpin, a contestant on the 2018 edition of competitive cooking reality TV show Masterchef UK, was unceremoniously eliminated from the competition after one of the show’s judges Gregg Wallace called her chicken rendang dish out for not being crispy enough.

Chicken rendang, however, is traditionally prepared non-crispy.

What erupted afterward was a massive online movement dubbed “Rendangate”, with social media users from Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei and Singapore – who often don’t see eye-to-eye when it comes to food and cuisine – unitedly slamming Wallace for his ill-informed remark.

Even Malaysia’s political rivals Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and ex-premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak banded together for a moment on Instagram and Twitter to express their heartfelt views about the matter.

Read also: ‘Rendangate’ is hilariously uniting Malaysia’s political arch-enemies and stirring up a storm on social media

Slightly more than a year later, the whole episode took an interesting turn when Zaleha posted on her Facebook page on Monday (May 13) that she had finally published her own cookbook, titled “My Rendang Isn’t Crispy”, a not-so-subtle jab at the entire controversy.

“From months of hard work to finally being able to hold it in my hands. I just hope you will enjoy and appreciate it,” said the description in the post, which shows an ecstatic Zaleha showing off a copy of her cookbook.

The description also included the dates when the book would be available – July 1 for Asia and September 16 for the UK.

“To my UK followers, please check link [sic] in my bio to pre-order your copy! To my Asia followers check out my story highlight to order yours online from Marshall Cavendish Singapore. I will update more details soon!!” said the post.

Her post has, at time of writing, garnered more than 3,700 likes, 400 comments and 2,500 shares.

Among the flood of comments congratulating Zaleha, many Facebook users praised her for the witty title.

Several agreed that the crispy rendang phenomenon had the profound power to unite Southeast Asian people despite their differences and disagreements over food culture.

My Rendang Isn’t Crispy comes with many of Zaleha’s favourite family recipes and dishes that she had grown up with, including laksam, nasi lemak and of course, chicken rendang.

“Mostly handed down from her mother and grandmother, Zaleha’s recipes maintain traditional methods of cooking, but are suitable for use in the modern kitchen so you can experience Malaysian cuisine in all its authenticity,” said the book’s description.

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