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Sunday, January 24, 2021

GALLERY: Masterchef’s meat-free menu wows diners

Warners Bay mother-of-four Steph De Sousa showcased her cooking prowess on Saturday evening, dishing up an assortment of delicacies at the third annual Feast for the Senses event.

Despite the heat, the charismatic MasterChef Alumni wowed hungry diners with her culinary skills.

The exclusive over-18s event was held at the recently revamped Rathmines Theatre and Heritage Centre and featured a three-course meal, live entertainment, and organic wines by Tamburlaine Wines.

The event was part of Lake Macquarie City Council’s annual Living Smart Festival.

De Sousa’s meat-free menu showcased seasonal ingredients which had been sustainably farmed and locally sourced, in keeping with the event’s core themes.

The trio of courses featured a whipped labna, conchiglioni pasta, dressed salad greens, foccaccia bread, and limoncello parfait.

“The aim isn’t necessarily to make vegetarians out of meat-eaters,” she said.

“It’s to tip the scales just a little bit away from having meat on your plate every night of the week.”

This year’s Living Smart Festival was switched to an online program due to COVID-19.

Manager Arts, Culture and Tourism Jacqui Hemsley said the venue change was in keeping with regulations.

“We’ve moved from Speers Point Park to Rathmines Theatre to ensure a COVID-safe evening,” she said.

“Current health guidelines stipulate a maximum of 30 people for outdoor events like this, whereas shifting it indoors with a comprehensive COVID-19 plan means we can accommodate more people.”

De Sousa is also the face of the Meat Free Challenge – a month-long initiative challenging families to eat less meat to improve health and help the environment.

“I’m not a hippie who doesn’t eat meat and I’m not vegan or vego fulltime but I’m trying to be sustainable and encourage other families to do the same,” she said.

“Meat production means a lot of emissions and if we can all cut that down a little, we’d be helping the environment.”

The event was held at the historic 300-capacity theatre located on the Rathmines foreshore.

The 1936-built theatre was tastefully decorated with native flowers, soft lighting, and rustic table runners.

Popular tunes featured throughout the evening as solo artists entertained the 65 guests.

Organisers are hoping the event will return to Speers Point Park in 2021.