'I Was Shook': Derek Lau's Time In The 'MasterChef' Kitchen Comes To A Cracking End
It wasn't eggsactly how he pictured things ending, but the fan-favourite left the 'MasterChef' kitchen with the same smile he had on his face all season.
Speaking to 10 daily via phone, it was pretty easy to see Derek's pilosophy on life unfold.
"I think the old me was more structured in what I would have done," he said, "being in that house, surrounded by everyone else, the cooking is all about pushing the envelope.
"When someone says you can't do it, you say.... stuff it, I'm going to give it a go and prove them wrong. And if it doesn't work out, it doesn't work out. But I'm not going to have someone else tell me it's not going to work!"
Laughing he admitted it was probably just stubbornness, but there's an underlying feeling that Derek's ready to give anything a go, so long as he's having a good time.
That's where Thursday's dreaded time auction comes in. With Derek cooking alongside Tessa, Tim and Simon, the four contestants had to bid on items using the time they would have to cook their dish.
"I don't know if you can see, I'm like 'What the hell am I doing?'" Derek said, laughing when we asked if he had prepared for an auction set-up or even if he had some kind of strategy.
"After I got the eggs I was like, okay, maybe I should go sweet -- and then for some reason I didn't bid on the citrus box. If I had eggs, citrus and something else... I would have been fine, probably.
"I was a bit shook," Derek said.
Derek ended up with three boxes containing a variety of eggs, alliums (which includes things like garlic, onions and chives) and a box of sauces. With all good intentions, he hoped to make tortellini stuffed with ricotta and with a quail yolk inside.
Things didn't go to plan, and ultimately George had to come up to Derek to tell him it wasn't going to work out, and he needed to change tactics ASAP.
"That was with like 20 minutes to go," Derek said, "I think I knew I was in trouble."
"At that point, all I wanted to do was get a dish up, I knew the first idea wasn't going to work," but thankfully there was a quiet voice in the back of Derek's mind that allowed him to have a contingency plan in place.
"That's why I put the duck egg in the sous vide," he said, "there was a part of me that thought it may not work. But, yeah, with 20 minutes to go... that was pretty gut-wrenching."
Derek had been a sweets guy from the beginning, so we asked why he didn't lean toward a sweeter dish -- especially during the bidding process. Partly, he admitted, it was because he wanted to push himself out of his comfort zone.
"You're in the top 10, you've got to," he said adding, "All the cooks I ever did, I was always a bit, 'F**k it, I'm going to just have a go,' and that's kind of what happened.
"I had never done [the dish] before -- kind of like when I was trying to do doughnuts and fried ice cream in 75 minutes," he said, "but then it got to the point of no return and I had dug myself into a hole and had to keep going whether or not it worked."
Derek's relationship with quail eggs is still fraught (and don't even get him started on croissants) but his passion for cooking has only been reaffirmed.
Admitting he was banned from his company's bake offs after winning two years in a row, Derek said he never felt like he was up to the standards of other 'MasterChef' contestants. He had to be convinced by friends and family that he had the skills, to the point where he filled out the application form the night before it was due.
"It's really long, I spent a lot of time on the first page, it was like 7 pm on the night before it was due and then I realised there were like five more pages!"
Even before his time on 'MasterChef' the dream of owning a cafe/restaurant space was on Derek's roadmap. Since being on the show, he's still hunting for that perfect location, with Matt Preston's advice firmly in his mind.
"His advice was don't rush into anything, and I think he's exactly right," Derek told 10 daily, "When you find the right spot, you'll know it straight away. That's still on the cards."
When we asked what else was on the cards, Derek coyly hinted at a few pop-up collaborations in the near future with some of his fellow contestants, some names he could mention, some he couldn't. So we'll definitely be keeping our eyes peeled for more news on that.