Category Archives: Kitchen News

There’s a ZULU on my plate!

There’s a zulu on my plate!

I always smile to myself when, despite myself, I always seem to get a bit of Africa onto my plates when presenting for the cooking school, photo shoots or demonstrations.  Don’t worry…I can keep it together when i need to!  I also sometimes sneak traditional African products into my cooking, probably to ward off my longing for friends and family left in Africa!  Thank goodness I have wonderful friends here at home in Brisbane and they don’t mind me feeding them African food whenever I can.


Now African cooking, in particular Zulu cuisine, is very simple and in normal households would be staple maize meal, vegetables and meat (inyama). Stews and casseroles are firm favourites as they are inexpensive and can feed many mouths.  Samp and beans is another very cost effective way of filling up tummies. Pumpkins, squash (including the leaves) are favourites vegetables as is spinach AKA ‘umfino’. Every tribe will have their own name for something so it can be quite interesting hearing all the different names.  My fathers favourite meal is still Sadza (white maize meal) served with meat and gravy and non of my fancy food can change his mind! He cooks a fabulous potjiekos (stew in 3 legged pot). My mother was a very keen and fabulous cook too and I have thankfully managed to steal her wonderful melk tert (milk tart), Hertzoggies (jam and coconut tarts), buttermilk rusks, Malva pudding and vetkoek (fried bread dough stuffed with curried mince) recipes which I still use today and claim as my own!

Melktert with cinnamon and almond biscotti sail


Recently I’ve taken to home smoking either chicken or salmon with the ever so popular Rooibos tea.  I have also been setting jellies for various mains and desserts using Rooibos tea as the base and then adjusting the flavour to match the dish I’m making, it really is so versatile.

Home smoked Salmon on a crepe!
Home smoked Salmon on a crepe!

I think African food is on the cusp of trending here in Australia.  We’ve seen Mexico, South America, Vietnam and other Asian foods hit with a vengeance but thanks to that ad on TV everyone wants to know what a bunny chow is!

If you haven’t had a bunny chow you really need to. It’s not only tasty and delicious, but it puts the fun back into food!  The ingredients are honest and simple and you can use various curries.  A Durban curry, like other regional Indian dishes, has a personality and characteristic of it’s own and is a refreshing experience if you enjoy trying something new. There are so many different types and styles of African food and I like to dabble a little in all of the African regions.

My other favourite African style would have to be Mozambican, very close to my heart after all the fabulous holidays i have spent there.

In case you didn’t know, South African is a melting pot of cultures ranging from German, Portuguese, Italian, French, Malaysian, Indian and many more so there are a lot of African adaptations creating many glorious food styles.

I’ll be posting some amazing African inspired recipes and menus over the next few weeks…let me know which ones in particular appeal to you and I’ll get cooking!

I’m wild about cooking…


The Vanilla Zulu

What a wonderful place…welcome to my very cosy fireplace in Franschoek, Cape Town


Greetings from a beautiful and chilly Franschoek, the second leg of my Africa trip. I finally have a moment to sit down and enjoy a moment by the fire to write stories of my trip so far and perhaps share a recipe or two with you in the hope that you’ll feel like you too are having a little getaway.



It’s just so stunning here, the craggy mountains enclose this tranquil little town bursting with character and culture and personality…and tremendous wine!

Franschoek is if course right in the heart of the Cape wine region, and I of course choose to be here, but even though I strongly suspected it would be beautiful I must admit it is a bit more than that. Also, the beautiful manor I booked over the internet has far surpassed its promise of looking gorgeous in it’s website photo gallery and it is in fact breathtaking.


It’s not only stately and vast and luxurious but it has a certain charm that I couldn’t help falling instantly in love with. That and that I feel like a princess or duchess and a private vineyard…I think I’ll battle to leave this place in three days.

I’m expecting all my guests in a moment so must start to prepare the feasting!

I’ll be back soon!

I’m off on a Culinary Safari!

Watch this space ladies and gentleman because today I leave for a long overdue trip back to Africa.

Not only will I spend long leisurely time with my family but I will explore and share the culinary diversity of Southern Africa. South Africa is a rainbow nation mad the food styles are exciting and diverse…I look forward to sharing my journey with you.

A blog within a blog!

I’m so excited with my new role as Ambassador Chef for Gourmet Garden!


Watch this space for exciting new recipes and articles…


Happy Cooking 🙂




Christmas Safari! African Style…

African Class last night, so good to take a trip down memory lane!  This is my interpretation of a classic Melktert (Milk Tart) served with beetroot and strawberry anise scented reduction and a Rooibos and cherry jelly!  I’ve unfortunately just had one for breakfast!  We also made salted nut caramel to make sure we had sufficient kilojules!  And a sneaky slice of my pistachio and meringue semi-freddo…



” Vivacious Melanie Townsend holds court with aplomb.  An interactive class that flourishes with lots of wine and laughter. Even shy students will be coaxed into the cooking action!: – Tracy Gielink


“Townsend, a bubbly, intelligent woman whose classes are fun and relaxed, says they’re about allowing a team to be creative by setting a time bound goal and encouraging them to think outside the box.  Apart from being a  necessity, food has long since been regarded as a great way to bring people together and because Townsend doesn’t even get into chef garb and speaks plainly, peoople are more open to experiment” – Omeshnie Naidoo