Delicious Discovery: Australia’s Chef Mel, aka The Happy Chef, introduces Her Special Brand of Simple Yet Spectacular Food Stateside

Chef Mel, aka ‘The Happy Chef,’ is already a celeb chef in Australia with a smile that lights up any room. Diners down under love her fun approach to food that makes the simple spectacular for any meal.

Now, after winning the prestigious International Book Award for her first cookbook, Culinary Quickies, Mel Alafaci is discovering that cooks in the US are eating up — pardon the pun — her easy, sensual, and impressive recipes.

She brings a new style to the celeb cooking scene. Focused more on fun feasts and incorporating storytelling and gorgeous plating into her repertoire, she brings a vibrant, unique voice and perspective to the international food scene.

Cooking Differently

While most famed chefs focus on teaching the amateur cook to create more complicated dishes with pricier ingredients, Chef Mel approaches cookery differently and is also wholly entertaining with her own culinary shorthand.

The lifetime foodie said she hopes to “bring my culinary lingo, simple, clever cooking fun into American kitchens next.”

Among her many talents are making advanced cooking techniques easy to recreate at home and teaching shortcuts usually closely guarded by professional chefs.

As well traveled as she is well educated, Chef Mel easily incorporates touches she’s picked up from around the world in a sassy, ​​witty, and approachable way.

“If it’s not fun, quick, tasty, gorgeous, and bursting with flavor, why make it?” she said. Among the guarantees she makes to her fans are that she can make any dish look ten dollars more expensive than it is through presentation, and she promises to get you compliments with every one of her dishes you deliver to your friends and loved ones’ tables.

She likens a humble and inexpensive item like a boneless chicken breast to a little black dress in your closet. It’s ok on its own, sure, but when you sex it up with some fresh herbs, a luscious sauce, and triumphant presentation, it becomes something to behold and appreciate.

Her favorite students are amateur home cooks eager to take their dishes to the next level, alongside regular home chefs lacking inspiration. And Chef Mel knows a thing or two about students.

A Storied Career

She began making a name for herself in Australia when she opened what has become a famous cooking school, Vanilla Zulu Culinary Adventures. Today, the school can operate as she travels and employs six professional chefs and 14 assistant chefs.

The dishes created by the students represent cuisines from around the world and are served at the school’s own restaurant, which welcomes 300 diners in an average week.

“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 judgmental mother-in-law impressive meals created from simple, inexpensive, everyday ingredients.”

In addition to being a cookbook author and culinary school founder, Chef Mel also has a successful YouTube channel, where she shares tips and tricks that can set home chefs on the path to elevated dishes and impressive plates.

Plentiful Plates

To Chef Mel, acing that recipe is only half the battle. The other half is presentation and plating. She teaches students how to ‘sell’ their dishes with flourishes of storytelling about the ingredients, cooking techniques, and more.

She also advises on the correct plating methodology and how to use complementary colors, textures, and shapes to really make your dishes pop.

“Always start with the basics and 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,” 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.”

As she likes to say, food is art and about far more than being fed. She says that half the effort should be placed in making people pause and look at their plates.

Keep your eye on Chef Mel; she’s sure to become the country’s newest celeb chef keeping us all on our toes in the kitchen.

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

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