The Ivy Asia accused of being 'reductionist' and 'presenting women as exotic objects'

Most followers were quick to agree, although some accused the influencer who broached the subject as implementing 'cancel culture'

Updated on 29 July 2021 • Written By Rosie Conroy

The Ivy Asia accused of being 'reductionist' and 'presenting women as exotic objects'

The Ivy Asia has been called out by a food influencer on Instagram for being ‘problematic’ and ‘presenting women as exotic objects and commodities’.

The Ivy Asia is a group of restaurants from Caprice Holdings, the parent company of all The Ivy restaurants across the UK. The Asia concept first opened in Manchester, with a further three sites opening in London. The restaurants are known for their glamorous interiors and menu of fusion food.

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Not everyone is a fan however. Food influencer Pippy Eats was recently asked on Instagram what she thought of the concept, and replied to followers via a series of stories. In the stories she calls out the restaurant chain for ‘lumping 48 countries, 4.5billion people and countless cultures and ethnicities into homogenous THEME’. Her argument is that actually the group seems to have taken inspiration from just a couple of Asian countries which presents a ‘reductionist orientalist view’.

While referencing the interiors - which feature cherry blossom, jade floors and lanterns - she also makes note that the menu is not entirely diverse in its representation of Asia as a whole. Here she points out that the flavours used in most dishes have been borrowed from East and South-East Asian recipes only. On the menu at St Paul’s in London, for instance, dishes include yellow sashimi with a fresh truffle salad and sesame crusted prawn dumplings. The choices, the food blogger says, the group has chosen are only dishes they think are ‘familiar and palatable’.

What she says she finds the worst about the group is the ‘racial and hypersexualisation and steriotypical fetishisation of the female staff/models in their marketing’. She goes on to say that especially given the last 12 months (when there has been a rise in ESEA hate crimes and murders), ‘presenting women as exotic objects and commodities for the consumption and pleasure of non-Asian/white males is dehumanising and reductive’. 

Pippa - who runs her Pippy Eats account on Instagram - was previously a cancer researcher scientist, but has since become a cook who focuses on Chinese cookery. She won Britain's Best Home Cook in 2018 and has since amassed nearly 70k followers on her social media platform.

When she invited followers to share their thoughts on The Ivy Asia many replied with answers such as ‘horrendous’, ‘it offends my ancestors’ and ‘hugely problematic’. In the name of transparency Pippa reinforced that this was her own opinion of the concept and that she was only sharing it in response to being asked for her thoughts.

Some admitted they ‘hadn’t thought of it [being problematic]’ before and thanked her for sharing, while others accused her of ‘cancel culture’.

This isn't the first news story of recent times The Ivy has faced. Critic Jay Rayner revealed he scattered his parents’ ashes at one of their restaurants