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‘Ignorant and racist’: The Great British Bake Off slammed for ‘Japanese week’

Episode included Chinese and Indian flavours, and Japanese steamed buns made to look like pandas, which are native to China

Adam White
Wednesday 28 October 2020 14:44 GMT
Paul Hollywood criticised for GBBO 'tiny hand' joke

The Great British Bake Off has come under fire for a Japan-themed episode in which contestants used Chinese and Indian ingredients, as well as panda decorations.

This week’s episode, broadcast on Tuesday 27 October, marked Bake Off’s first ever Japanese week, with the bakers seeking inspiration from traditional Japanese delicacies.

But the week’s first task, in which the bakers were asked to make traditional Japanese steamed buns, quickly went awry when bakers substituted traditional Japanese flavours for Indian dhal and Chinese stir-fry flavours. 

Others appeared to make a Chinese pork bun, while one baker designed her buns to look like a US-style cheeseburger with fries.

Baker Hermine also styled her buns into pandas, which are native to China. 

Viewers were left confused by the choice of flavours, which seemed to go against the theme of the episode, and feed into racist stereotypes.

“I had hopes for Japanese week but generalising all Asian food with Japan feeds the racist narrative that all Asians are the same,” tweeted one viewer.

“It’s Japanese week on #bakeoff and people are making Chinese and Indian food,” another viewer tweeted. “Generalising at its finest!!!!”

Another tweet read: “So far on Bake Off’s Japanese week we have had Chinese pork belly and Indian daal… geography/appreciation of other cultures was never our strong suit, was it?”

“It’s Japan week here on Bake Off so Laura’s filling her buns with Chinese-style pork because, y’know, like whatever, right?” read another.

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Hermine serves her panda-decorated Japanese buns on ‘Bake-Off' (Channel 4)

Torchwood and Absolutely Fabulous actor Naoko Mori was particularly scathing, tweeting her view that the episode was “ignorant and racist”.

“You’d think in [this] age – and climate – they’d do better,” Mori wrote. “It not only insulted us Japanese, they’ve insulted the Chinese – and everyone’s intelligence.”

The episode, which marked Paul Hollywood’s 100th episode of Bake Off, saw baker Mark sent home following a showstopper that judge Prue Leith called “a disaster”.

The Independent has reached out to Channel 4 for comment.

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