Mayfield home cook bound for MasterChef gloryFood Bites

SUCCESS: Mayfield’s Reece Hignell impressed the MasterChef judges and has made it though to this year’s competition.

Reece Hignell lives in Mayfield and works as arecruitment consultant –for now, anyway.

The 28-year-old is a talented home cook and a contestant on this year’s series ofMasterChef . He cooked a sweet dish for the judges on Monday night (his was the “splash” on the plate that featured intelevision previews) and was awarded a coveted apron.

Born in Newcastle and one of three brothers, Hignell studied an advanced diploma in hospitality management, graduating in 2009. Working in hotels across the Hunter Valley and Newcastle for several years, he’s since moved into recruitment.

He is a self-taught cook, relying on YouTube videos and social media for ideas and techniques. He cooks what he likes to eat, and admits to having a massive sweet tooth. Frozen desserts are his favourite but Hignell is known towhip up some impressive braised meats.

His passion for cooking began at home. Growing up, he says, his mum cooked typical n dinners which prompted him tostart exploring different foods and cuisines. His signature dish is a coffee dessert with crumbled dark chocolate, honeycomb and Kahlua caviar.

His weakness? He reckons it is filleting fish. His greatest strength, on the other hand, is keeping a clean workbench in the kitchen.

Citing Jason Atherton, Nigella Lawson and Yotam Ottolenghi as his culinary idols, Hignellsays if he could cook anywhere in the world he would choose Paris.

He hopes that following hisMasterChef journey, the show and judges will give him the confidence to open his own cafe. He dreams of a takeaway spot offering fresh, vibrant options, but with a sweet treat on the side. Most likely ice-cream sandwiches. He says he would like to offer opportunities to unemployed youth, providing traineeships to students and schooling them in seasonal produce.

You can watch Hignell in action on Channel 10 at 7.30pm. Check your guide for details.

Friends in need at high teaThere are still a few seats left at Friends with Dignity’sannual High Tea With Friends on May 20–and you’re invited to join in the fun.

Friends with Dignity is a volunteer-based, not-for-profit registered charity that provides practical programs to assist survivors of domestic violence in collaboration with refuge and crisis centres. Homes have been set up for men, women and children in need right here in Newcastle.

The high tea, to be held atNoah’s on the Beach from noon to 3pm,willraise critical funding for Friends With Dignity.Admission includes a glass of bubbles on arrival, delicious high tea, empowering and motivating guest speakers, an auction and raffles.Tickets can be bought online atfriendswithdignity老域名出售.au.

If you would like to further support this event with sponsorship or donate a prizeemail [email protected]老域名出售.au.

Product alertRumour has it Milkadamia’s macadamia products will soon be stocked in the Newcastle region. Based in Ballina, their nutty non-dairy milks are, Food & Wine was told,popular with lactose-intolerant buyers.

Golf classic returnsMcLeish Estate will be holding its 14th annual McLeish Golf Classic at Oaks Cypress Lakes Resort on May 26.Each team is provided with a golf cart fitted with a Visage GPS system and access to the club’s facilities throughout the competition. Wine tasting is encouraged at each hole –which can lead to the odd air swing – and there are prizes up for grabs includingbest-dressed team and longest drive.

Afterwards, there will be apresentation wine dinner atMcLeish Estate Winery.Cost:$180 per person (including 18-hole Golf Classic and two-course wine dinner);$160 per person (including nine-hole Golden Slipper and two-course wine dinner).

Plan ahead when dining outFirst Table is coming to Newcastle. The restaurant marketing platform specialises in off-peak dining and works with more than 700 restaurants in 35 cities across and NZ.

“Our mission is to give restaurants exposure to a wide audience of the restaurant-going public in their region and to give diners the opportunity to experience new and exciting venues for the first time,” NSW director Mandy Whitney said.

Mandy Whitney

“Diners can book the first table of the night at any one of our partner restaurants and receive 50 per cent offtheir food bill.We have over 200,000 subscribed diners and have filled over 180,000 early tables for our partners so far.” First Table launches in Newcastle on May 14.

Region’s best on showThe sixth annual 2018 Hunter Valley Wine Festival is on June 30, 11am to 5pm, at Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley. The event willshowcase the region’s best wine and food,encouraging locals to re-discover home-grown offerings while attracting visitors to the Hunter Valley. Tickets are on sale now through moshtix老域名出售.au.

Watch and learnMoney-saving series Eat Well for Less premieres on May 15 at 7.30pm on Nine and 9Now.In two 90-minute specials, hosts Leila McKinnon and Ben O’Donoghue take families who are cash-strapped and time-poor, seize their shopping trolleys and transform their lives meal by meal.

Urban tastings at LuckyThe Lucky Hotel is hosting Urban Cellar Door on May 27, 2.30pm to 5pm. Tickets cost $20 per person and include wine tasting and canapes. Six wineries are involved –Audrey Wilkinson Wines, Cockfighter’s Ghost, Silkman, Meerea Park Wines and Comyns & Co –with more than 30 wines available to sample.