‘Top Chef’ Winner Accused of Cultural Appropriation Over Sponsored ‘Bibimbap’ Recipe

‘Top Chef’ Winner Accused of Cultural Appropriation Over Sponsored ‘Bibimbap’ Recipe
Carl Samson
December 21, 2020
A “Top Chef” alum has ignited discussions on cultural appropriation after posting her version of a Korean dish on Instagram.
Stephanie Izard, winner of the reality show’s fourth season, shared a photo of her own “bibimbap,” which consisted of beef, cilantro and mint.
Chef Stephanie Izard shares her own spin to bibimbap. Image via @stephanieizard
A traditional bowl of bibimbap comes with rice, meat and mixed vegetables. A version called dolsot bibimbap is served in a sizzling hot stone bowl, which leaves a crispy layer of rice at the bottom.
However, the dish has many other variations, according to the Korea Tourism Organization (KTO), an organization under South Korea’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism.
Apparently, some places already serve bibimbap croquettes and even bibimbap in a cup.
“It has gained recognition worldwide as a healthy dining option, increasing the number of bibimbap restaurants in different parts of the world. From traditional bibimbap to regional specialties and fusion styles, there are many ways to enjoy this dish,” KTO states.
Izard’s post was created as sponsored content for New Zealand Beef & Lamb, the “farmer-owned, industry organization representing New Zealand’s sheep and beef farmers.” While some see her recipe as just another variation, many took offense in the lack of cultural context in her post, which only referred to the dish as “bibimbap.”
“NOTHING about this is bibimbap,” one Instagram user declared.
“I’ve always been a big fan of yours but I’m very disappointed by this. Bibimbap is a traditional Korean dish and while there is some variation in what goes in it, this is clearly not bibimbap,” another user wrote. “As someone who capitalizes and profits off of other cultures, the least you could do is represent it properly.”
Another echoed, “I would suggest you take some time to learn about the cultures you are appropriating and profiting from.”
Izard updated her post amid the backlash on Friday. She explained that her recipe did not intend to be an authentic interpretation.
“I see and hear your comments. So I want to clarify: This is my take on a tasty rice dish using flavors from a Japanese Beef Bowl and Korean Bibimbap! It’s not intended to be an authentic interpretation of either dish. This is my interpretation/homage,” Izard noted.
The chef has since changed the recipe’s name to “Strip Steak Rice Bowl.” Her team also issued an official apology.
“This was a misstep on my part that spun out of control and I am sorry. When I was originally brainstorming recipe ideas for this project, I thought of Bibimbap as an inspiration and jotted the recipe idea down as that — from there the recipe went through many variations and channels and ended up very far from traditional [Bibimbap]. I should have made sure the name was changed before it went out to the public and I apologize that it wasn’t,” Izard said, according to Eater Chicago.
“I am not a traditional chef and nearly all of my dishes are inspired by flavors from around the world that I love — this experience has helped me realize that I need to be very careful and thoughtful about how I refer to dishes and I will make sure to do so in the future.”
Feature Images via @stephanieizard
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