Freelance presenter and writer in Brisbane, with a love of food, fashion and culture.
Published October 1st 2013
Enter a world fuelled with passion, flavour and adventure
Tucked away just off Kedron Brook Road, Wilston, Vanilla Zulu Culinary Adventures is an exciting, interactive and insightful way to cook. Who knew chef skills and cooking classes can actually be fun, even for the most hopeless at-home chefs.
Starter- Lemon infused oil with a balsamic reduction and bread (GF option pictured with crepe)
Melanie Townsend, Executive Chef and founder of Vanilla Zulu Culinary Adventures, has over 20 years in the food industry, previously working as a chef in South Africa. What was once Mel's little adventure, has expanded into much more: group cooking classes, chef master classes, cooking with schools and training Coles butchers… Now that's not an easy task!
Entrée - prosciutto flower with caramelized melon and slow cooked capsicum and tomatoes decorated with a balsamic glaze
The 'Spectacular Spanish' class caught my eye, so I signed up. I arrived expecting a class on how to make paella and sangria, from my current knowledge of Spanish cuisine; however this was extended beyond my imagination! Fragrant, scented, glazed and garnished, I learnt not only many techniques, but how to master the use of these words with my every day cooking. Everyday cooking skills were also taught, not known to the everyday at-home cook, which are a necessity to progress and interesting to know.
Main- Fragrant garlic roasted tenderloin with roasted capsicum puree, and garlic and chorizo frijoles
Now to the food. First we made our starter, then entrée was a prosciutto flower with caramelised melon and slow cooked capsicum and tomatoes decorated with a balsamic glaze. Next our main meal was fragrant garlic roasted tenderloin with roasted capsicum puree, and garlic and chorizo frijoles. Dessert was an orange and caramel scented semi-freddo served in pastry baskets with salted caramel sauce – MY FAVOURITE!
Dessert - Orange and caramel scented semi-freddo served in pastry baskets with salted caramel sauce (GF option pictured with crepe underneath). Please excuse my messy sauce decorating!
Dietary requirements? Need not worry! Melanie is sure to cater to your needs, for me it was gluten intolerance. Nearly everything was organised to be gluten free, except for the pasty in dessert. In this case, I was given crepes instead, which was amazing! There were toffee shards through it to give it the crunch that pastry has. It's these little details that really made a difference.
For a beautiful four course meal, you can bring your own drinks and spend a night cooking up a storm with your family or friends. Located in Wilston along Macgregor Street, Vanilla Zulu Culinary Adventures is a little hideaway from the coffee shops along the main strip. A cooking class is a great idea as a gift for a friend, or to catch up with a group of people as an interactive dinner option.
Melanie's understanding of flavour combinations, cooking techniques and how to keep an audience interested is amazing to watch, and best of all great to learn from. Classes on offer are Spanish Cuisine, Healthy Eating, French Cuisine, Modern Thai and more. Check out the Vanilla Zulu website for more details.