Food is one of the great joys of life. From the smell to the taste to the health benefits, pleasure and presentation, it’s something to enjoy with friends and pursue endless variations on.
Chef Mel, aka ‘The Happy Chef,’ couldn’t agree more. The celebrity chef from Australia is known down under for her signature brand of fun and sexy food. Mel Alafaci is dedicated to creating dishes as gorgeous as they are delicious — and many of them are simple to make as well!
After snagging the coveted International Book Award for her first cookbook, Culinary Quickies, she performed a whirlwind series of pop-up events around the world in celebration. She found an enthusiastic audience in the US.
Today, while writing her second cookbook, she’s also taking America by storm, teaching Californians how to make their calamari seductive and Floridians how to serve up fettuccine that fetches compliments.
Chef Mel has always believed that food can create happiness and that tasty treats can spread good vibes. Her impressive recipes satisfy, and her carefree kitchen attitude makes her a hit with everyone from first-time chefs to seasoned professionals.
A Well-Seasoned Pro
Lest you think she’s just an author, Chef Mel is the founder of a famous cooking school in Australia, Vanilla Zulu Culinary Adventures, which also functions as a team building facility, that employs six chefs, 9 assistants, and serves over 350 passionate foodies and wanna-be foodies each week.
Need more convincing of her prowess? Head over to her YouTube channel to learn fantastic kitchen shortcuts that will have your family and friends — or hot date — begging for more.
“I want to share hope and joy with my cooking. We can cook with love and enthusiasm every day, especially armed with all of my shortcuts,” said Chef Mel, “We can make our family, our friends, or our judgemental mother-in-law impressive meals created from simple, inexpensive, everyday ingredients.”
When you add her cheeky smiles and disarming sense of humor to the mix, you have all the makings of America’s next celebrity chef. Interestingly, she doesn’t aim to create kitchen prodigies but rather to teach everyday cooks how to elevate with small tricks, simple twists, a bit of storytelling, and killer presentations.
“I hope to bring my culinary lingo, simple, clever cooking fun into American kitchens next,” she said.
Selling Your Spaghetti
In The Happy Chef’s world, great taste is only half of a chef’s job. The other half is down to storytelling and serving. So sharing a few sultry details about the heirloom tomatoes in the sauce or the imported cheese in the ravioli is key to getting your guests’ mouths watering.
“Serve it up with a wink and a smile, and you’ll have them eating out of the palm of your hand, ” said Chef Mel, “Well, not literally. Unless you’re into that!” she said with her trademark hearty laugh.
Her best kitchen advice is to begin with the basics before adding your personal flair to a dish. And unlike many other celeb chefs, she doesn’t insist on the most expensive ingredients. Instead, buy what you love and can afford. She believes that a well-presented and prepared dish can be made for pennies — but never needs to look that way.
“Suppose you’re cooking dishes that stress you out and make you hate cooking. In that case, you are cooking the wrong thing,” she said, “By gaining kitchen confidence, you will actually enjoy cooking again, you’ll start to succeed, and live happily ever after in your kitchen.”
Cheese Platters that Flatter
As is her way, Chef Mel always makes sure to add instructions on plating every recipe that she shares across her cookbook, YouTube, and live events. In her opinion, it’s a waste of time to spend hours on a dish only to present it sloppily.
She believes in plating that is akin to art. She knows her color wheel and the art of mixing textures, styles, and elements. “Use beautiful bright colors and refine your presentation with a sexy plate. For example, I love the color of a slate slab against pink parma ham. It just pops,” she said.
Chef Mel is already making waves with American chefs that are hoping to learn some down-under secrets from this enthusiastic cooking wunderkind.