MasterChef turns teacher

If Reece Hignell looks familiar to you – that’s because you’ve seen him on television.

The Newcastle local graced our television screens as a finalist on the 10th series of cooking juggernaut MasterChef. His unique skill and passion for desserts, seeing him become one of the favourites of the season.

Now, Reece is back home, sharing his skill with Atwea students.

Before MasterChef, Reece was working in recruitment and business development. To him, cooking was just a hobby.

“I have always loved cooking but I was self-taught. I learnt everything from reading cookbooks,” Reece said.

Since MasterChef, Reece says he’s found his niche, which involves not just cooking up impressive creations, but teaching others how to follow in his footsteps.

“I love showing people how to cook and plate up,” Reece said.

“There’s something about passing on your skills, I get a great sense of achievement in seeing someone else create a dish they’re proud of.”

Along the journey, he’s teamed up with the winner of MasterChef’s first season, Julie Goodwin. Based on the Central Coast, Julie runs cooking classes at ‘Julie’s Place’ in Gosford and late last year, Reece had the opportunity to host one of them.

“It was a hands-on class and we cooked an apple-filed, caramelised white chocolate mousse dome topped with a perfect mirror glaze,’ he said.

“It was a wonderful opportunity to be part of the event, especially considering the status Julie has created for herself.”

Back in Newcastle, he’s currently cultivating deserts for hatted chef Leslie Taylor at Merewether Surfhouse and popular Asian inspired restaurant and bar Ginger Megs. He also teaches at Essential Ingredient at The Junction.

“I’m glad to be home. After spending time living in Sydney, which I really enjoyed, I’m loving the laid-back culture that comes with Newcastle,” Reece said.

“Newcastle also suits my creative purpose. There’s so many incredible restaurants doing great things, so it’s an honour to put my touch on those.”

Atwea is thrilled to announce Reece is now designing and preparing to teach classes for the college, to show students how to make some of MasterChef’s masterpieces including the famed croquembouche.

“It’s one that always gets contestants unstuck, so it’s become quite popular for people to want to try and recreate,” Reece said.

Reece will be teaching five classes for Atwea. They are Dumplings from Scratch, Sustainable Cooking, Asian Street Food, Lebanese Feast and Greek Feast. All are incredibly hands-on, with just six people in each class.

“I’m really excited to be working with Atwea, it’s a wonderful opportunity for me to expand on what I love,” he said.

“I want to teach recipes that are easy and accessible for all. I also want to show people how to ‘plate up’ because that’s something people often struggle with, so I really want to encourage that.”


To register for Reece’s masterclasses, visit the Learn for Fun home page.

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