‘Started To Lose Control’: An Overcooked Egg Yolk Sends Lourdes Leschen Home

In one of the toughest eliminations yet, the judges had to split hairs or, in this case, egg yolks.

Following on from last night’s French-themed Mystery Box challenge, Alex, Nat, Gill and Lourdes found themselves in a Pressure Test at the stunning Black Cat Truffles near Ballarat.

Once again cooking outside the MasterChef kitchen, the four chefs had to not only recreate Liam Downes’ Smoked Egg Yolk Raviolo with Truffle and Asparagus, but had to do so outside in the truffle orchard.

“Getting used to the MasterChef kitchen is one thing,” Lourdes told 10 Play, “there’s so much equipment, you’re running into the pantry eight times a cook… to go into a field or a truffle farm, or a boiling, stunning Town Hall and try to cook an ice cream in 30 degrees heat. I was totally unprepared for that, it really makes it that much harder.

“I think it threw a spanner in the works but it was also a great thing because it challenged people,” she continued. “It was also so nice to experience the fresh air and regional Victoria. I really liked how they showcased local ingredients that we got to use for underbench staples last night. It was such a great experience.”

First arriving at the truffle farm, Lourdes was full of confidence. As a lover of baking and all things sweet, Lourdes joked, “I thought oh my god, chocolate truffles? Hell yeah, we’re doing some baking! Then it dawned on me it was actually the fancy high-brow truffle I had barely eaten in my life.

“I was excited to be there but I knew the stakes were even higher for this cook,” Lourdes added.

Getting started on the dish, Lourdes hit an early snag while trimming the fat off her chicken skin. Removing it from the oven it wasn’t as crispy as Liam’s version.

“I was worried about making that beautiful pasta dough, having the layers of green dough interconnected with the standard egg yolk dough was something I had never done before,” she explained.

“It was very technical, we had to get the ruler out so I was a little bit nervous,” she said.

Usually completely calm throughout a cook, Lourdes said by the end of the cook her bench began to reflect how she felt in the challenge. “My bench started to get really messy, I started to lose control a little bit and, ultimately, I lost track of the clock and boiled my pasta a bit too long.”

One of the imperative aspects to Liam’s dish was the egg yolk contained in the Raviolo. When cooked perfectly, the yolk oozes out and mixes with the chicken jus and chive oil dotted around the picturesque plate. Boiling her pasta for just a bit too long, Lourdes’ egg was missing the smoked flavour, and was solid when the judges cut into it.

But they didn’t have an easy decision ahead of them. While Lourdes’ plate had a lot of technical issues, Gill had also struggled during the cook and ended up plating a finished dish that was missing a handful of elements.

The judges had to make a difficult call between the perfect elements Gill managed to get on her unfinished plate against the issues Lourdes had with despite getting all the elements on the plate.

“I was surprised in a way because I had gotten all my elements on the plate, but at the same time, when they let me know my egg yolk wasn’t runny I knew that’s what they were looking for.

“That was the core of it, and that’s what let me down, it made sense to me,” she said, adding, “At the end of the day I’m still just proud and amazed that I got on! I never thought this would happen so to get to go on the show and make it this far, I was really proud of myself.

“Even though I failed that challenge, I was ultimately still happy with how I had done so far in the overall competition. I didn’t find much reason to stress about it.”

Looking back, Lourdes wishes she got to show the judges a bit more of her technical skill as well as a bigger array of dishes.

“I wish I could have stayed in there longer so I could have shown them what I had done. By the time I got out, they were saying I needed to be less dessert-y and show more technique and I understood that and was ready to do so. Unfortunately, the time was not for me.”

Coming out of the MasterChef kitchen, Lourdes is eyeing a future in food admitting that she hopes to one day have a farmer’s market stall, like one of her favourite judges Poh, or open up a small baking business like Emelia Jackson, creating bespoke cakes for customers.

“I’d love to do something like that because baking in my home kitchen is where I’m at my happiest and at peace. If I’m in that situation, that’s where I really flourish and it would show through my food.”

MasterChef Australia continues Sunday - Wednesday at 7.30 on 10 and 10 Play