Known alternatively as ‘The Happy Chef’ and ‘Chef Mel’ Down Under in Australia, Mel Alafaci is poised to bring her fun approach to food to a new audience in the United States.
Spreading culinary happiness has always been important to the chef, cookbook author, cooking school owner, and YouTuber. Her first cookbook, Culinary Quickies, won the International Book Award and was a top finalist in the U.S. Her second volume of easy, sexy, and impressive recipes will be released soon. Her easy smile and wicked sense of humor means she can translate tricky ‘cheffy’ terms in easy to understand lingo for absolutely everyone. She also claims some of her signature dishes, including her cheese platters, are some of the sexiest but easiest dishes in the world.
A natural teacher, she aims her lessons at people that know how to cook, or are absolutely hopeless, or those that have simply lost their inspiration. Foodies who are ready to take their skills to the next level will benefit from her ‘cheffy’ techniques.
“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 hot date, or our judgemental mother-in-law impressive meals created from simple, inexpensive, everyday ingredients.”
About Chef Mel
Born in Zimbabwe, Chef Mel immigrated to Australia and founded Vanilla Zulu Culinary Adventures, a successful and well-known cooking school that offers classes in many different cuisines and functions as a team building facility. Today, the school has six chefs and 14 assistants and serves 300 people weekly.
She’s been a foodie since childhood and hopes to “bring my culinary lingo, simple, clever cooking fun into American kitchens next,” she said.
A trained chef, she didn’t like working in commercial kitchens, commenting that the unfriendly and high-stress environments suck the life out of many passionate chefs. So she quickly left that life and opened her first cooking school in South Africa in 2011.
A few years ago, she stepped away from the school to focus on growing her brand, starting a YouTube channel, and hosting pop-up classes worldwide. Her initial events in the US got a tremendous response, and she currently has dates booked for London, Tokyo, Tuscany, and Amsterdam.
The Happy Chef’s Guide to Food
Chef Mel believes that successful cooking and serving can be chalked up to using half your skills at cooking and the other half at ‘selling’ your meal to your friends and family, which means how you talk about it, how you serve it, and how you interact with it. It’s also all about having confidence in yourself.
She believes in using high-quality and sensory-rich ingredients.
“Cook with love, happiness, and confidence — you can make butter sexy,” she said, in regard to taking an everyday ingredient but being creative and clever with it.
“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. If you’re cooking dishes that stress you out and make you hate cooking, you are cooking the wrong thing,” said Chef Mel. “By gaining kitchen confidence you will actually enjoy cooking again, you’ll start to succeed…and live happily ever after in your kitchen.”
Cooking really is a chance to reconnect with family and friends, it can be a wonderful way to share an experience with loved ones. Sharing your inspiration, and newly found skills, will give you a new lease on life. Everyone gets tired of their own cooking! Chef Mel promises she can
Chef Mel truly believes that all foods can be made sexy. She likens a boneless chicken breast to a little black dress. It’s a bit ‘meh’ and basic on its own, but add some accessories such as fresh herbs, sensual sauces, and indulgent side dishes, and it becomes sexy. “Food is art; it’s that simple,” she shared.
Plating is Everything
At her school, in her books, and on her YouTube channel, Chef Mel stresses the importance of plating your meal beautifully. After all, what’s the point of making something fun, sexy, and delicious if it’s served in a haphazard and unattractive way?
Chef Mel stated, “The right plating makes your meals look ten bucks more expensive. They don’t have to actually be expensive, but you can even make a humble sweet potato look pricey.” In fact, making everyday ingredients look as sexy as possible is one of her favorite lessons, and she assures her viewers that, once they get into the habit of plating, they will be faster, happier, and more confident in the kitchen.
The secrets to plating are color, texture, and personality. She suggests, “Using beautiful bright colors and refining your presentation by using a sexy plate. For example, the colors of a slate plate really make parma ham pop,” she explained.
She teaches plating and presentation skills with each meal she presents at her school, in her books, and on her channel. “It’s not just about the food. It’s about making people pause and look at their plate,” she said.
When a Chef is so enthusiastic about making people confident in their kitchens and appreciated by their friends, families, and ‘hot dates,’ we will count ourselves among her earliest American fans.
About Chef Mel
Chef Mel, aka The Happy Chef, works to teach new and seasoned chefs how to be happy in their kitchens again by cooking with happiness, confidence and love. Her cookbook, Culinary Quickies, won the International Book Award and was a top finalist in the United States. To learn more about booking opportunities, please visit https://chefmel.me/