Meet Vanilla Zulu

Meet Vanilla Zulu

By Kellie Maloney

What do you get when you mix entertaining cooking demos with hands-on sizzling and stirring? A cooking class with Brisbane’s most passionate chefs! Join Vanilla Zulu Cooking School in Teneriffe and learn the art of crafting home-cooked dishes that are not only a feast for the eyes but also a treat for the tastebuds.

Led by Zimbabwean-born chef Mel Alfaci, these cooking classes highlight Mel’s ‘Zulu’ heritage and empower beginner cooks to add a touch of adventure to every kind of cuisine. From rustic Italian flavours to Asian street food to melt-in-the-mouth desserts, you’re sure to find something to tempt your tastebuds and inspire your inner foodie at Vanilla Zulu.

Since launching her first cooking school from a home granny flat in South Africa, Chef Mel has gained decades of experience hosting classes where students can connect, be entertained and share a love for food.

Ready to explore your exciting foodie potential? Read on to find out more about Chef Mel and her adventurous cooking school.

Vanilla Zulu is…

two women making desserts

“A fun, interactive cooking school. We focus on the skills our students need to succeed with a certain dish when they leave us and cook this in their own kitchens—it’s a proven recipe that works. Plus, we have a dedicated bar serving up gin cocktails to enjoy with your home-cooked meal—martini anyone?”

Learning how to cook is…

pasta making class at vanilla zulu

“Pure bliss. I studied as a chef and then found my way to teaching and inspiring people to enjoy cooking as much as I do. I always say you can never know too much about food, there is always something new out there. A new recipe, a new way and a new flavour combination to try. You will never stop adding to your cooking skills, which makes it exciting and fun.”

My top tip for home cooks is…

couple posing with handmade dinner

“Learn the basics first. Make sure you perfect one dish or cooking skill so you have good foundations to keep building on. And season your food…it’s one of the most important things! Believe it or not, gnocchi used to be my nemesis. I think I almost gave up but then I asked the right questions, learnt what to look out for, and I have lived happily ever after! I can now make gnocchi perfectly every time.”

I have a few rules in my kitchen…

“Get your pan swearword hot! Grey food is not sexy, so step away from the pan, don't stir too much and manage the sizzle in your pan. Season your food, it shows you care.”

Cooking can make you feel…

chef mel cooking in her kitchen

“Happy! Many of our students have said we changed their lives after a class. It’s a joy to see a student's eyes light up when I teach them something and they do it themselves—I love seeing the happiness on their faces when they make something they never thought they could! We are a fun, happy, passionate bunch of chefs that just love to keep learning, sharing our secrets and seeing our students succeed.”

I would love to cook with…

“Gordon Ramsay to show him how to relax and cook with happiness. Cooking is supposed to be fun and NOT stressful.”

Remember, presentation is key…

chef smiling with italian dessert

“One of the things we like to share and teach is how to present food. Some cooking schools only focus on the cooking, but presentation skills are just as important.”

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