Chef Mel makes Centurion cooks happy

The chef treated Centurion residents to a live cooking demonstration with tips even the most experienced cooks could take home.

Hirsch’s Centurion was buzzing with excitement as local home cooks and beyond came to learn from an international chef.

Chef Mel Alafaci, also known as The Happy Chef, presented a spectacular cooking show, sharing her secrets, wisdom and a sneak peek into her latest cookbook.

The award-winning African-Australian chef and owner of highly successful Vanilla Zulu cooking school brought a unique blend of enthusiasm, entertainment and expertise.

Thanks to Bosch, Siemens appliances and Hirsch’s, she embarked on a Eat Yourself Sexy cooking tour, which was a roaring success in May and led to her return in October.

Chef Mel’s event at Hirsch’s Centurion was more than just a cooking demonstration, it was a culinary masterclass.

She covered everything, from the basics of knife work to the science of flavour, delving into how small details can make a big difference in the kitchen.

“I love cooking, but I won’t stay in the kitchen any longer than I have to.”

She said this had inspired her books.

“I always think of a recipe as a suggestion. You might not get that thing you need in the recipe in your local shop. I don’t want you to start panicking and drinking excessively because of it.”

Chef Mel said understanding why small aspects can have huge flavour advantages can make all the difference in the kitchen, on time, cost and healthy meals.

“When you go to the shop, you can see what is beautiful and fresh, what is in season, and what is on sale.

That’s the way I like to shop because once you get your basic cooking methods down, like how to roast properly, how to boil properly, how to present the meal, you can make something great if you have the basics.

I can make even mac n cheese sexy because I know how to present it, which is an easy thing to do.”

Chef Mel explained simple techniques, like how to make sushi rice, the best techniques to get the most out of your veggies by healthily cooking them and how to cook the perfect piece of salmon.

Her new cookbook, Eat Yourself Sexy Quickies is based on this philosophy.

The book is filled with recipes that could grace the tables of top restaurants, yet are made using simple ingredients with a flair.

Chef Mel trained as a chef at the ML Sultan cooking school in Durban.

She firmly believes that anyone, armed with the right know-how and creative flair, can create restaurant-quality meals in their kitchen. “Even boring mince and chicken breasts can be sexy,” she said.

The cooking exhibition taught everyone in the audience something.

Mel’s infectious passion for cooking, entertaining anecdotes and sassy sense of humour captivated the audience.

Chef Mel has two cookbooks: Eat Yourself Sexy Quickies (paperback or ebook) and Italian Quickies (paperback or ebook)

Eat Yourself Sexy Quickies promises to revolutionise cooking at home.

The book encourages cooking that is both nutritious and delicious, teaching readers how to use spices, herbs and other ingredients to create exceptional flavour, and gives an insight into the science behind healthy eating.