Derek Cheong: Journey to MasterChef Champion and Delicious New Ventures


In the bustling culinary landscape of Singapore, a new star has emerged, captivating food lovers with his innovation and unyielding passion for cooking. Derek Cheong’s journey from a self-taught chef to the champion of MasterChef Singapore Season 2 is a testament to his dedication and skill. Recently, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Derek to discuss his culinary journey, his experience on MasterChef, and his latest venture, Tamagood.

masterchef derek cheong

A Self-Taught Culinary Prodigy

Derek’s culinary adventure began when he was 19, fueled by an insatiable curiosity and love for food. As a self-taught chef, his education came from watching YouTube videos and reading cookbooks, which he complemented with hands-on experience in the kitchens of renowned Michelin-starred restaurants such as Zen and Mirazur, the latter being crowned the World’s Best Restaurant in 2019. Derek’s initial foray into cooking was modest, preparing simple meals for friends and family. However, these simple beginnings laid the groundwork for his future in the culinary world.

The MasterChef Journey

The decision to join MasterChef Singapore Season 2 was a leap of faith, encouraged by his supportive circle of friends and family. For Derek, it was also a personal challenge to see how far he could go in the fiercely competitive arena. Reflecting on his time on the show, Derek describes it as an “exhilarating” experience that not only tested his culinary skills but also allowed him to form lasting memories and friendships.

Winning the coveted title was a turning point for Derek. It gave him the confidence to leave school and pursue his culinary dreams full-time. “Winning MasterChef SG changed my life in many ways,” Derek acknowledges. It opened doors to numerous opportunities, from brand collaborations to increased visibility, allowing him to share his culinary creations with a wider audience.

Culinary Ventures Post-MasterChef

Since his victory, Derek has ventured into culinary consultancy and private dining with Flavourium SG, showcasing his ability to craft unique dining experiences. His entrepreneurial spirit led him to ;aunch his latest F&B venture, a modern rice bowl concept situated in Singapore Polytechnic’s food court.

Introducing Tamagood by Derek Cheong: A Modern Take on Japanese Rice Bowls

Tamagood is Derek’s latest foray into the F&B industry, offering fast, modern Japanese rice bowls distinguished by a special onsen egg sauce. “We create rice bowls and baked rice to pair with our signature onsen egg sauce,” Derek explains. The concept is deliciously simple – to provide affordable tasty meals without the wait, catering to the bustling life of Singaporeans especially the students at Singapore Polytechnic where it is located. With plans to expand the menu in April to include more seafood and other dishes, Tamagood is set to become a popular choice for food lovers seeking quality and convenience.

I had the opportunity to try the Grilled Chicken Rice Bowl during our videoshoot with Derek, and it was absolutely delicious. The marinated chicken thigh was grilled to perfection, the crispy skin glazed with a wonderful miso teriyaki sauce that has been beautifully caramelized, and a juicy interior oozing with flavour. The signature onsen egg sauce, poured over the rice, completed the donburi dish with a burst of umami from the tare sauce and creaminess from the yolk.

Looking Ahead

Derek Cheong’s journey from a self-taught cook to a celebrated MasterChef and entrepreneur is inspiring. His story is a reminder that passion, coupled with dedication and hard work, can lead to remarkable achievements. As he continues to explore new culinary horizons and expand his gastronomic ventures, Derek’s impact on Singapore’s food scene is undeniable. As foodies always on the lookout for new things to eat, we will be watching his career closely, eager to see where his culinary journey takes him next.

Tamagood can be found at Singapore Polytechnic Koufu Food Court Stall #4.

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