Chef Melanie Townsend has launched her new cookbook titled 'Culinary Quickies'. Photo by Cordore Studio

Owner and Executive Chef of Vanilla Zulu Culinary Adventures, Melanie Alafaci (nee Townsend) has recently launched her cookery book, Culinary Quickies that compromises of varied recipes.  

Chef Mel, 44, loves to share her passion for food and teaching through cooking classes, television shows and now a book.

She says she has always been a passionate foodie and she’s lucky to be able to do what she loves and inspire others along the way and that she loves to travel and discover new cuisines, as we can see by her global themes throughout her cooking.

The Zimbabwean born who lived most of her life in South Africa and later immigrated to Australia says she started cooking from the age of four from a cookbook for kids her wonderful parents bought her. She says her older brother would read and she would cook.

“There wasn't much entertainment out on the farms I grew up on so food was a wonderful way to keep entertained.  And there was always fresh produce on the farm so it was easy to be creative and thrifty with what we had. I became really good at adapting recipes as there wasn't always a shop around the corner,” says Alafaci.

She says with ‘Culinary Quickies’, she wanted a cookbook that was something different, a little bit of humour, a little bit of food styling, lots of helpful hints and tricks to make sure we absolutely shine and lots of advice on how to vary the recipes so that they are more versatile and we can cheat more when we cook.  

She added that with the cookbook she was inspired by feedback that she received from her students and her readers on her blog.  

“Most of the comments were that I taught them easier ways of doing something, and making difficult tasks easy. I guess that's because I'm the worlds laziest chef (or busy mother and business owner) so I always want maximum outcome and minimal input!  “They also said I made it fun and exciting. The inspiration is to help people 'bling' up their everyday cooking by adding 'culinary trinkets and accessories' to an otherwise boring dish. For example, adding chopped dates and pistachio gravel to a beautifully cooked lamb shoulder will give it valuable crunch and texture and sweetness.  It will literally transform the dish,” says Alafaci.

Asked about her favourite recipes in the book, she says she is very happy to share the family recipes for Telephone Pudding as it makes her smile to know that other families will be enjoying the dessert she has been enjoying since she was a child.

Alafaci says the other favourite would be Chaing Mai curry paste made from scratch, it's heavenly, quick, easy and deliciously versatile.  

The book will be available to the South African market by next week on Amazon, Booktopia and Kindle.