Chef Mel Alafaci is hailed as ‘The Happy Chef’ among her following and for good reason. The way she performs in the kitchen enlightens viewers of her signature YouTube channel and one can not help but smile. She has an enthusiasm and authenticity in the kitchen and it is both intoxicating and contagious among her loyal fans.
In fact, she has been making kitchens, across the globe, happy for years, since she launched her career in 1996. Additionally, she is the founder of the Vanilla Zulu Cooking School, located in Brisbane, Australia, and formerly the Gecko Culinary Adventures in Durban, South Africa.
Having relocated to Australia from South Africa and founding her school, Vanilla Zulu, in 2011, Chef Mel instantly garnered a loyal fanbase, thanks to her authentic and heartfelt passion for cooking, but also in her humor too. Fans in the States are also gearing up for her brand to extend to the Americas as well as she continues to expand her brand.
“I hope to bring my culinary lingo, simple, clever cooking fun into American kitchens next,” she said. “I have so many fans in the West and I can’t wait to engage with them more.”
From the Kitchen to the Screen
Chef Mel comes from humble beginnings and what she has accomplished, to date, is nothing short of extraordinary. She grew up miles from civilization, outside of the comfort of easily accessible stores and shops, and developed a love for cooking, but in putting her own spin on the process as well.
“I grew up in remote parts of Zimbabwe and South Africa and cooking was really my only form of entertainment. That is why I became a chef,” said Chef Mel. “Living on such remote properties, I had to become creative with what I could do because, if I saw something in a cookbook, I didn’t have regular access to a shopping center. I had to improvise and that is how I became amazing at doing things with seemingly basic ingredients.”
Making Cooking Fun Again
Fans are finding it fun to perform in the kitchen again thanks to Culinary Quickies with Mel Alafaci, a cookbook with food styling and presentation ideas, which Chef Mel authored in 2018. In fact, she has new installments en route in 2022 and beyond!
The successful cookbook teaches readers to be happier, faster and more confident in the kitchen and in their plating capabilities, thus flexing their creative muscles in the process. Her book serves as a collection of recipes, kitchen hacks and tips to help readers create a meal that makes them proud to present it to their families.
Whether a newbie to the kitchen or a seasoned chef, anyone can benefit from checking out Culinary Quickies. The book offers a fresh perspective and spin on making fast meals look like it took the whole day to prepare them while also being innovative and modern.
“Always start with the basics, and then add flair and personality to the dish. A beautifully prepared and presented dish can be cheap and easy, but it certainly doesn’t have 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,” Chef Mel said, “By gaining kitchen confidence, you will actually enjoy cooking again, you’ll start to succeed…and live happily ever after in your kitchen.”
Each recipe in the book was created, tried and tested by Chef Mel, and her family, which makes her proud to present them to readers and cooking enthusiasts. The goal for the book, for her, was to create recipes that don’t break the bank, while making them look expensive and extraordinary on the plates. All the while, making the cook feel good about their creation and helping them avoid feeling overwhelmed or intimidated.
“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,” Chef Mel said, “We can make our family, our hot date, or our judgemental mother-in-law impressive meals created from simple, inexpensive, everyday ingredients.”