Asian people on social media are upset with “Masterchef: The Professionals” contestant Philli Armitage-Mattin for dissing Asian food. According to Today, her Instagram bio read “Dirty Food Refined … Asian Specialist #prettydirtyfoood,” which did not sit well with people.
“@chefphilli brands herself as an Asian-inspired chef, using the taglines “Dirty Food Elevated” , and “Pretty Dirty Food”. 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,” Clarence Kwan the creator of “Chinese Protest Recipes” posted on his Instagram stories.
Kwan explained to Today why he was so upset with the words “dirty” and “Asian” put together.
“This has been a weapon that’s been used against Chinese immigrants since we got here almost 200 years ago. And we’re seeing that manifest today as well,” he said. “So when you’re talking about ‘dirty’ you have to understand context and how Chinese and Asian communities have been villainized through the use of food and how we eat.”
After the backlash, Philli Armitage-Mattin who is a London-based chef changed her bio and issued an explanation. She said she never called Asian food “dirty” but instead was referring to street food. But she still apologized for not making the connection between the words “Asian” and “dirty.”
“There have been a lot of comments on social media over the weekend about my use of the phrase ‘dirty food’ and I wanted to clarify my position,” she wrote on her Instagram. “I have never called Asian food ‘dirty’ in a derogatory manner. I have never used the phrase ‘dirty’ to reflect being unclean or unhygienic. The way I mean food in ‘dirty’ is indulgent street food; food that comforts you as in ‘going out for a dirty burger.’
“… Far from being critical, I want to be proud and celebratory. As a chef I only cook food I personally find interesting, delicious and that I’m passionate about which includes street food from around the world.
“It has never occurred to me to connect the words “dirty” and “Asian” in the manner I am accused of, that has never been my intention. I’m truly sorry if this has caused any offence.”
But some people in her comment section were not having it claiming she knew what she meant. And Kwan was not having it calling it a ‘non-apology.’
“This non-apology, as you can see, it’s very much like, ‘This is how I feel, I’m sorry you feel that way,'” Kwan said. “Literally all people are asking for, all marginalized groups and voices are asking for, is to be heard. When people say ‘I’m hurt,’ the response shouldn’t be ‘I’m sorry you’re hurt.’ That’s not a dialogue. Especially in this year when there’s been so much discussion about unity.”