"In a year where East Asian communities have been blamed for the pandemic, this type of narrative is completely unacceptable"

Today reports that MasterChef: The Professionals contestant Philli Armitage-Mattin has come under fire for describing Asian food as “dirty”.

The chef drew controversy through her Instagram profile description in which she wrote “Dirty Food Refined” whilst describing herself as an “Asian Specialist” with the hashtag #prettydirtyfood.

Although Armitage-Mattin has since removed the phrases from her profile, social media users were quick to screenshot her original description to call her out.

Clarence Kwan, creator of ‘Chinese Protest Recipes’ – an antiracism cooking zine – shared the screenshot through his Instagram stories.

“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,” Kwan wrote.

In another post, Kwan added, “here is a person profiting off of ‘dirty’ Asian food, while countless Asian restaurants have suffered vandalism, violence and fallen victim under the same baseless labelling.”

“Basically, words matter,” Kwan told TODAY Food. “This has been a weapon that’s been used again Chinese immigrants since we got here almost 200 years ago.”

“And we’re seeing that manifest today as well. 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.”

Armitage-Mattin issued an apology via Instagram, claiming she “never called Asian food ‘dirty’ in a derogatory manner” and instead meant “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,” she wrote. “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 that I am accused of, that has never been my intention. I’m truly sorry if this has caused any offense.”

However, her apology was not widely accepted in the comment section.

“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,” wrote one commenter.

“Your deletion of ‘Asian specialist’ and ‘dirty food refined’ from your profile only serves to show that you KNOW that you have done something wrong. This apology reeks of ‘I’m sorry you misunderstood and got offended, but I’m not going to take responsibility.'”

Kwan was also not pleased with Armitage-Mattin’s response

“This non-apology, as you can see, it’s very much like, ‘This is how I feel, I’m sorry you feel that way,” said Kwan. “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.”

Last month, a group of men attacked a Chinese restaurant in Bristol with a brick and fireworks.

In other news, Chef David Chang has become the first celebrity to win Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? 

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