Food influencer Half Baked Harvest accused of disregarding, appropriating Vietnamese culture

Food influencer Half Baked Harvest accused of disregarding, appropriating Vietnamese culture

Tieghan Gerard, a food influencer known as Half Baked Harvest, is facing backlash for what some are saying is a lack of respect for a culture’s cuisine — as well as appropriating it for her platform and not responding to criticism. 

Gerard posted a video of her recipe, “25 Minute Banh Mi Rice Bowls,” on Instagram Tuesday, showing viewers how to make coconut rice, ginger-sesame ground chicken, pickled vegetables and cucumber salad. She mispronounced the name of the Vietnamese dish and grouped together various Asian ingredients as “banh mi.”

People were quick to comment on the inaccuracy of the recipe and her incorrect pronunciation. “You guys are going to love these banh mi rice bowls,” she said, pronouncing the dish as “bon-my,” when it’s pronounced as “bun-mee.”

Commenters said they were confused by the name of Gerard’s recipe since it was a rice-based dish using non-Vietnamese sauces and seasonings like Thai basil and sambal chili paste. Banh mi, meaning “bread,” is a short baguette generally topped with sliced meat, pickled carrots and daikon, chilis and cilantro. 

“The ginger/sesame/honey flavors are definitely leaning more heavily into Japanese and Thai cuisine than Vietnamese. Especially the inclusion of Thai basil,” one commenter said on the video, which garnered 1.8 million views.

Hundreds of comments called out Gerard for the dish and her silence around the mispronunciation.

“I love you, your content and recipes. However, please acknowledge the mistake/ you’ve made here and not just sweep it under the rug. People make mistakes and that is OK. Ignoring after knowing what is right is NOT,” one person commented. “You have a platform, make it right.”

“How are you still not addressing this feedback? Makes what you said about listening to your followers seem super disingenuous,” another said.

Gerard, who has 5.2 million followers on Instagram, hasn’t acknowledged the backlash and has continued posting videos and stories on her account. 

“Why not call it Vietnamese-Inspired Rice Bowl or Sweet and Spicy Rice Bowl? You can always mention your influences in the post description,” one commenter said.

Gerard did not respond to NBC News’ request for comment.

This isn’t the first time Gerard has faced backlash for misappropriating Asian cuisine. In February 2021, she was called out for posting a recipe titled “Weeknight ginger pho ga (Vietnamese chicken soup),” TODAY reported.

Fans criticized the dish’s name on Instagram, saying it was not pho but rather a quick noodle dish with chicken and sesame chile sauce. Gerard changed the recipe’s name on Instagram and her website to “easy sesame chicken and noodles in spicy broth,” but her website’s URL still says “chicken-pho.”

“It was never my intention to offend or hurt anyone or the culture. I will make sure to be much more conscious when deciding on recipe titles in the future and be sure to do more research,” she previously said in a statement to TODAY about her noodle dish recipe.