Review: Brisbane Italian cooking class with Chef Mel is a delicious adventure

Cook up a storm with Chef Melanie Townsend at Vanilla Zulu Culinary Adventures during this fabulous Brisbane Italian cooking class. You'll learn the secrets of preparing great Italian cuisine and have a lot of fun along the way. Review: Bec Walsh

Brisbane Italian cooking class

Brisbane Italian cooking class

4 stars

Brisbane Italian cooking class with Vanilla Zulu Culinary Adventures

This Brisbane Italian cooking class provides a fun and friendly environment in which to learn the secrets of preparing amazing Italian food. Learn the techniques for creating simple but delicious dishes. Classes in other cuisine styles are also available. Please contact us for details. Duration: 3 hours (approx.)

Best price guarantee: If you find this activity elsewhere at a cheaper price, we will beat it by 10%. Some conditions apply. There are no booking or credit card fees when you book this activity with The Big Bus tour and travel guide.

When was the last time you heard the words ‘adventure’ and ‘cooking’ in the same sentence?

Never? Then you certainly haven’t met Brisbane chef Melanie Townsend at Vanilla Zulu Culinary Adventures. I recently had the opportunity to take part in Mel’s Brisbane Italian cooking class, which was definitely an adventure! It was an evening full of food, fun and fabulous one-liners.

Mel started teaching cooking classes in Durban, South Africa, back in 2001. She migrated to Australia and established Vanilla Zulu Culinary Adventures in 2011. The company now offers classes in Italian, Thai, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cooking.

Brisbane Italian cooking class

Brisbane Italian cooking class with Chef Mel. Image courtesy of Vanilla Zulu Culinary Adventures

As the evening commences, Mel gets straight down to business. ‘Alright guys – first we eat, then we cook, then we eat again!’ She produces a delicious smelling entree of freshly baked lavender and rosemary bread, which she gets stuck into with a pizza cutter. ‘You’ve got to show it who’s boss!’ she announces merrily, leaving the group in fits of laughter.

The bread is served with an array of flavoursome olive oils, cured meats and a baked triple cream brie dressed with truffle oil, black salt and edible petals – Mel’s signature culinary ‘bling’.

This Brisbane Italian cooking class is a group effort. Everyone pitches in to prepare the meal, which also makes these classes perfect for groups or corporate team-building exercises. Six-week chefing courses are also an option.

It’s all hands on deck as Mel energetically guides us through the preparation of our main course – sweet potato and pancetta ravioli with burnt sage butter and a red capsicum sauce. Dessert is revealed to be a pistachio and nougat semifreddo.

Brisbane Italian cooking class

Brisbane Italian cooking class. Image courtesy of Vanilla Zulu Culinary Adventures

Mel encourages everyone to get involved. We take turns attempting to break eggs using only one hand. Some of the group set to work on a block of homemade nougat in preparation for dessert. The rest of us take on the communal stirring of the all-important pasta dough for the main course.

Mel gleefully likens the pasta to an elastic band: ‘If it’s not handled with care, it will snap back at you!’, she exclaims.

At this point I learn a valuable trick of the trade when it comes to making pasta. ‘Flour your hands and face just as much as the table when you knead dough. It makes you look like a real Italian!’ says Mel.

Once the dough is ready, it’s time for the all-important making of the ravioli. We’re broken up into teams of three and given eight minutes to complete our share of the task.

Brisbane Italian cooking class

Brisbane Italian cooking class

Each team kneads frantically, while Mel zips between teams judging our newly acquired ravioli-making skills. The dainty pasta parcels go into the water, where they’re cooked to perfection. The flavours of the filling work perfectly with the tangy sauce, leaving our mouths watering for more. Needless to say everyone is extremely happy when Mel announces there’s a take-home serving for everyone.

Finally, we top the evening off with our exquisite dessert.

Mel’s Brisbane Italian cooking class is guaranteed to deliver an energetic evening of delicious fun, and you don’t even need to love cooking to have a great time. Molto bene!

Bec took part in this activity as a guest of Vanilla Zulu Culinary Adventures.

Additional images: Bigstock


Bec Walsh

About the writer

Bec Walsh’s feet are itchy and she loves seeing the world. She has travelled in Europe, Asia and Africa, and as of 2015, was supposed to be heading to Mexico on a university exchange to complete her degree in International Studies. She packed it in to follow her passion and write about her favourite thing in the world – travel. Bec views life as a series of stories and experiences, and she can’t resist her inner yearning for adventure!

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