The Reason This London Chef Was Accused Of Plagiarism

Any home chef who has collected a ton of recipes over the years might dream about one day publishing a cookbook featuring some of their favorite meals. On paper, this task seems easy but the finer details cause problems for many. According to Grub Street, anyone looking to professionally publish a collection of recipes has to come to terms with the fact that they might have to promote the book themselves and they might need to spend a bunch of their own cash on financing the product. If you end up self-publishing, you might not find a good distribution flow and your beloved recipes might never make it to an audience.

London chef Elizabeth Haigh recently managed to make it over every hurdle thrown at her when she finally published her own cookbook, "Makan," Eater reported. Haigh's book delved into her experience as a chef of English-Singaporean descent and highlighted recipes influenced by her upbringing and rise through the British culinary world. Haigh seemed poised to make a name for herself, having appeared on "MasterChef," and other television shows in Britain, while starting conversations around the food she presented in her cookbook, per The Washington Post. Now, Bloomsbury Absolute has pulled the book from shelves due to a plagiarism accusation that has the potential to derail Haigh's career.

Lifted recipes

As "Makan" grew in popularity, other chefs took notice, including New York-based cook Sharon Wee, BigHospitality reported. Wee had previously published her own cookbook, "Growing Up in a Nonya Kitchen," in 2012 and noticed that Haigh appeared to have lifted recipes straight from her book. Wee took to social media to expose Haigh, stating in an Instagram post, "I wrote my book in loving memory of my mother. I credit her and her peers for their anecdotes, recipes and cooking tips. This was their story. Here is my public statement to share with you and others." The caption appeared alongside a written statement from Wee detailing how Haigh took direct and paraphrased quotations and recipes from her book. Haigh may have also lifted direct lines from the cookbook "You and I Eat the Same," per Eater.

According to Eater, the incident has sparked a conversation inside cooking circles about how chefs in privileged positions can steal from lesser-known names, in addition to how citation standards in cookbooks need to change. While Haigh may lose her standing in the culinary world, this plagiarism accusation has opened up new avenues of dialogue and may shake up the way in which the cooking industry approaches cookbooks.