Statement Cropped

Statement by Phillipe Sperss regarding the publication of Fish Butchery by Josh Niland (published by Hardie Grant Books)

My website is a culmination of the knowledge passed down from various culinary masters that I have had the privilege to learn from, viewed through the lens of a vigorous scientific approach honed during my time spent at top educational and culinary institutes.

I was therefore disappointed to discover that a portion of my article titled ‘What is Ikejime’ published on this website had been used without my consent in the newly released book ‘Fish Butchery’ by Josh Niland and published by Hardie Grant. Had I been approached to contribute to this book, I would have gladly accepted, so it was extremely disappointing that my work was not acknowledged.

This matter has since been brought to the attention of the author Josh Niland, and the publisher, Hardie Grant, who have acknowledged that my work should have been attributed and who have agreed to the publication of this statement on my website and to properly attribute my work in future publications of the book, amongst other terms. I am pleased that my concerns have been addressed and my work acknowledged.


  1. This is completely unacceptable. I remember this happening to Sharon Wee when the book ‘Makan’ plagiarised some of her book and Marshall Cavendish has the decency to withdraw the book from circulation. The fact that Hardie Grant has refused to do so shows how much of a greedy company they are.

    1. It’s not only Josh Niland and Hardie Grant that should publicly apologize. The James beard award needs to make a stance on whether or not they support such practices given that he has won their award before for writing.

    2. Agreed! Josh Niland won the James Beard award a few years ago for cookbook of the year. This practice is a clear breach of the James Beard code of ethics for writers. They should withdraw his award for copying work.

  2. I checked the article and compared it to the book. Josh Niland basically copied the article word for word without many changes. If this isn’t blatant plagiarism I don’t know what it. Shame on this author! Absolutely lazy writing.

    From the article on this website:

    ‘In fish and in humans, energy is stored in the form of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) that is produced using oxygen during the process of aerobic respiration. When required, ATP is then able to bind to out muscles before breaking down into Adenosine Diphosphate (ADP) and phosphate, in the process releasing energy that is then used to power our muscle contractions. The remaining ADP molecule which is still bound to our muscles is then replaced with a new ATP molecule, which causes out muscles to relax. The process then repeats itself as muscle contraction continues.’

    From Josh Niland’s book:
    ‘In fish, energy is stored in the form of adenosine triphosphate ( ATP), which is produced using oxygen during the process of aerobic respiration. When required, ATP is then able to bind to muscles before breaking down into adenosine diphosphate ( ADP) and phosphate, in the process releasing energy that is then used to power muscle contractions. The remaining ADP molecule that is still bound to muscles is then replaced with a new ATP molecule, which causes the muscle to relax. The process then repeats itself as muscle contraction continues.’

    1. This website uses a lot of scientific vocabulary so when you try and google the parts that he plagiarized, all you get back are scientific articles. No wonder he thought it’d be okay to just steal the work, it’s almost impossible to get caught. I wonder how they found out?

  3. Now we know which publisher to never buy books from. All they do is care about the profit they make and don’t consider protecting writers. As a book publisher it’s their duty to protect small writers, not line their pockets by making deals with celebrity chefs.

  4. Given that he seems to have changed a word here and there for the work copied, it looked like Josh Niland was trying to get away with it.

    1. This is not a surprise at all, I’ve eaten at his restaurant before with my family and think it’s all just hype. Why would a person who just spends all his time in a kitchen know anything about basic science? Agree with the comment above, he probably just hired a ghost writer to do the dirty work for him.

  5. To other commentors, painting anyone involved as a “bad seed” based on one event and little context is a dangerous. In fairness to all, there are several ways this could have happened accidently. Perhaps it was copy-pasted – initially – into an early draft in order to sketch out the ideas for the book (since the wording here does quite a good job making a complex idea clear, and any scientific explanation would need to use many of the same technical terms, in much the same order, to be accurate). Then at some point perhaps it was rewritten in good faith, but an editor substituted the text from an earlier version they liked better, not realizing it wasn’t original. Unfortunate and still problematic, but maybe not malicious. Unless a pattern of behavior is clear, there’s no harm in assuming this was a mistake.

    1. I feel like the idea that it could have been not malicious to begin with does make sense but misses the point. It doesn’t matter if you committed tax evasion by mistake or not, you can’t simply claim to have been ignorant of the law, it is your own responsibility to make sure you comply. The same goes here, careless mistake or not, he stole someone’s work. And from how the statement reads, no effort to even ask Phillippe to consult on the book was made. Especially as someone who’s an award winning writer, the penalty should be even harsher as he should be even more aware of what constitutes as plagiarism.

      In the same logic, it’s why policemen who are caught speeding off duty get a harsher punishment. They’re suppose to be the model of good ethics.

    2. But if it was copied and pasted initially into an earlier draft, there already was an intent to copy other people’s ideas without referencing the original writer. If this wasn’t the case then Josh would have referenced this website in his book to begin with, or at least attempt to contact Phillippe to ask if he’d like to contribute. Given that it appears that this didn’t happen, then there’s no such thing as rewriting it in good faith, his intent from the very beginning was to pass it off as his own writing.

  6. Maybe an honest mistake but disappointing that there is no apology on their socials or their websites.

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