ENTERTAINMENT
28/04/2020 7:12 PM AEST | Updated 28/05/2020 7:08 PM AEST

Former MasterChef Australia Contestant Defends Poh Ling Yeow After Viewer Backlash

Some viewers have accused the chef of being "overqualified" for the Channel 10 cooking show.

Channel 10
Masterchef Australia: Back To Win contestant Poh Ling Yeow

A former ‘MasterChef Australia’ contestant has spoken out in defence of Poh Ling Yeow following a recent wave of criticism against the cook. 

While some viewers have accused of her being “overqualified” for the show, others have questioned how she’s still in the competition as her food is apparently too “basic”. 

“I don’t actually understand why people don’t like Poh,” 2019 ‘MasterChef’ contestant Derek Lau told HuffPost Australia. “She is herself on the screen as she is in real life.” 

Some viewers expressed frustration after Monday night’s episode when Poh struggled to get a dish together during a fast challenge. 

“Poh frustrated me with those potatoes tonight, it was obvious they were cut too big to cook in time & then she tried to steam them. She was definitely the wrong choice to cook second,” one person wrote on social media. 

Derek, who has cooked with Poh in the past, said “everyone cooks differently” and the show is about taking risks.

“It’s not like she’s trying to do it for attention or any of that. It’s just because that’s the type of cook that she is,” he explained.

He also said that if taking a risk doesn’t work out, it doesn’t matter because “you’re not there on the show for fame, you’re not there for any other reason other than the fact that you’re cooking”. 

“MasterChef is about home cooking so if you want to home cook, there’s nobody more suitable for that type of role than Poh.”

This season is called ‘MasterChef: Back To Win’, with 24 previous contestants including Poh, Hayden Quinn, Reynold Poernomo and Callum Hann returning to the series for another shot at victory.

Derek said to call a contestant on the show “overqualified” this year doesn’t make sense because the playing field is “different”. 

“To say that someone is overqualified or under-qualified, I don’t think it really applies,” he explained. 

“Everyone has a different background this year,” he acknowledged, “but I think you kind of know what you’re getting yourself into in saying, ‘Yes I’m going back on’. 

He said the high-pressure environment of the show helps bring all the contestants to the same level. 

“To say that someone is overqualified, it just gets thrown out the door when you’re in that kitchen to be honest. You’ve seen celebrity chefs crumble in there.

“Because you’re in that confined space of filming, you just immerse yourself in food. The pressure, the lights are on you, the cameras are on you, there’s people asking you questions while you’re cooking. It totally changes everything, it just levels the playing field.” 

And what’s not to say “the person next to you is studying and practising twice as hard”. 

‘MasterChef Australia: Back To Win’ continues at 7:30pm on Channel 10.