Chefs defend MasterChef: The Professionals 2020 contestant Philli Armitage-Mattin, targeted by antiracism campaigners

The  Staff Canteen

MasterChef: The Professionals semi-finalist Philli Armitage-Mattin has been embroiled in a bitter online debacle after she inadvertently called herself an "Asian specialist," calling her style of cookery "dirty food refined" and including the hashtag "#prettydirtyfood in her Instagram Bio.

 

The chef, whose culinary repertoire was largely forged during travels across Asia, where she indulged in local cuisine and worked in award-winning kitchens including Michelin-starred HAKU in Hong Kong, has defended her love and respect for the region's food in all its diversity.

“I have never called Asian food ‘dirty’ in a derogatory manner. I have never used the phrase ‘dirty’ to reflect being unclean or unhygienic,” Philli wrote in a post last week. 

“The way I mean food to be ‘dirty’ is indulgent street food; food that comforts you as in going out for a ‘dirty burger.’ … It has never occurred to me to connect the words ‘dirty’ and Asian in the manner that I am accused of, that has never been my intention. I am truly sorry if this has caused any offence,” she added. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Chef Philli Armitage-Mattin (@chefphilli)

 

'Take no notice and crack on'

Despite the widespread criticisms, the chef has received much support from within the industry. 

"Take no notice and crack on," one comment by chef Alan Paton reads, with chef Sat Bains encouraging her to "Stay Strong."

Aktar Islam tweeted: "I think it's a terrible shame that a talented and passionate chef has to resort to having to explain herself and apologise for something that she had no intention of causing offence. She's only cooking and celebrating food she loves and certainly not looking to offend anyone."

'I am a 28-year old chef trying to work in what is a very tough industry'

Despite support from within the industry, the backlash has been huge, as campaigners around the globe called out the 28-year old, Gordon Ramsay Group-trained chef for perpeturating stereotypes about Asian cuisine and considering it a monolithic entity.

One comment on the post read: “Even if you didn’t intend the word ‘dirty’ to mean ‘unclean,’ you have failed to acknowledge or apologize for the harm that this kind of language causes to Asian populations. Especially during a time when racism towards Chinese people is rampant." 

Another post by author and antiracism campaigner Clarence Kwan said: “In a year where Chinese and East Asian communities have essentially been blamed for the pandemic and chastised as ‘dirty,’ this type of narrative is completely unacceptable."

Over the weekend, disparaging comments continued to trickle through.

One user said: "I hope this isn’t your take on an apology? This is the most passive aggressive, defensive statement. Why can’t you acknowledge that you’ve upset the Asian community? You have no issue appreciating our food but you can’t appreciate the people? Please take some time to reflect, and as many people have pointed out - really focus on the voices defending you VS the voices you’re ignoring/silencing and gaslighting."

Another comment reads: "This is a really disappointing attempt at an “apology”. Stop deleting comments, turn off the defence mode and do better please. The majority of the people defending you are not from the demographic you’ve offended - please take this into consideration."

Philli replied to comments calling her out for deleting replies and freezing comments on her social accounts last week, explaining that she didn't do so in order to 'silence' comments and asking that feedback be shared with her "in a constructive way."

She continued: "I am also learning and am trying to navigate an unfamiliar setting having never had a television / media profile before." 

Chef Philli and the MasterChef: The Professionals team are preparing a statement to issue to the press, and we will update this piece as and when they do. In the meantime, let us know your thoughts in the comments section below. 

In these challenging times…

The Staff Canteen team are taking a different approach to keeping our website independent and delivering content free from commercial influence. Our Editorial team have a critical role to play in informing and supporting our audience in a balanced way. We would never put up a paywall and restrict access – The Staff Canteen is open to all and we want to keep bringing you the content you want; more from younger chefs, more on mental health, more tips and industry knowledge, more recipes and more videos. We need your support right now, more than ever, to keep The Staff Canteen active. Without your financial contributions this would not be possible.

Over the last 12 years, The Staff Canteen has built what has become the go-to platform for chefs and hospitality professionals. As members and visitors, your daily support has made The Staff Canteen what it is today. Our features and videos from the world’s biggest name chefs are something we are proud of. We have over 500,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels, each connecting with chefs across the world. Our editorial and social media team are creating and delivering engaging content every day, to support you and the whole sector - we want to do more for you.

A single coffee is more than £2, a beer is £4.50 and a large glass of wine can be £6 or more.

Support The Staff Canteen from as little as £1 today. Thank you.

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 8th December 2020

Chefs defend MasterChef: The Professionals 2020 contestant Philli Armitage-Mattin, targeted by antiracism campaigners