sliced carrots and green vegetable

Hug a Vegetarian Day!

An Easy and Delicious Dish Guaranteed to Make your Favorite Vegetarian Smile this September 23rd

Chef Mel Alafaci, aka ‘The Happy Chef’, is taking the US by storm with her unique brand of fun and sexy cooking.

This month, she’s decided to celebrate Hug a Vegetarian Day on September 23, by crafting a meat-free triumph that will please every plant-based person in your life. Her gorgeous new recipe, the ‘Vegan Tower of Pleasure,’ proves that you don’t need meat to be marvelous. 

What’s even better? She’s sharing it here for readers to recreate at home for their favorite vegetarian — delivered with a hug, of course. 

The unusual holiday was created with input from animal rights non-profit foundation PETA to celebrate people who choose to forgo meat in their daily lives. 

“Years ago, when I started as a chef, vegetarian food was never considered sexy, fun, or playful,” Chef Mel explained, “Healthy, yes. Ethical, sure. But seductive and delicious? Not so much. Today, that’s changed, and I’m all for it!” 

Chef Mel has created a global name for herself based on making everyday foods sexy and delightful, and she didn’t shy away from creating a dish for vegetarians that meets her highly sexy standards. 

Although American audiences are only starting to hear her name on the food scene, The Happy Chef has a strong following internationally. She published her first cookbook, Culinary Quickies, in 2018, and the title took the coveted International Book Award, quickly making her an up-and-coming global food star. Today, she’s penning her next title and plans to include some melt-in-your-mouth entries sure to please your favorite vegetarian. 

Back in Australia, Chef Mel founded a famous cooking school and restaurant, Vanilla Zulu Culinary Adventures, that feeds nearly 300 guests each week while instructing students in several culinary styles and employing six chefs and 14 assistants.

To see a bit more of this Aussie foodie favorite in action, her YouTube channel is a great way to cook with her. There, she presents tips and tricks for making everyday recipes sexier and lessons on making your favorite dishes in beautiful ways that make them even more attractive to your friends and family.

Remaining completely on-brand, Chef Mel’s ‘Vegan Tour of Pleasure’ is set to become a new signature recipe in your kitchen. It’s easy to make, stunningly presented, and will make your favorite vegetarian feel loved, cared for, and satisfied.

“To create the perfect Vegan Tower of Pleasure, you need some amazing roast vegetables, some sexy chickpeas, a stacking ring, and a full 24 hours for preparation. No, I’m kidding!” she said with a laugh, “It’s easy and quick to prepare — I promise!”

Though you can get creative with your veggie choices or use what you have on hand, her favorite combination is always a winner with her favorite vegetarians and vegans. 

Chef Mel suggests using slices of eggplant, chopped sweet potato or pumpkin, cauliflower, carrot slices, and asparagus with the woody ends removed. Once you’ve got your vegetables prepped, place them — along with a can of drained chickpeas — on an oiled roasting tray.

Before popping in the oven, those vegetables need a dash of seasoning to make them truly delicious. The Happy Chef recommends sprinkling the mixture with her Chef Mel Culinary Spray Tan Ras el Hanout or Dried Porcini Mushroom Dust

After seasoning, roast them in a 420f preheated oven for 12- 15 minutes. They should be slightly browned when you pull them out.

Once they are cool, grab your stacking ring to begin creating a tower. No stocking ring? No problem. Simply grab a clean and empty plastic peanut butter jar and cut the bottom off it. It makes a perfect makeshift stacking ring, according to Chef Mel. 

Begin stacking your veggies inside the ring on a plate. Start with the largest and flattest piece, most likely an eggplant slice. After each veggie layer, pack the vegetables down using the back of a spoon, shaping them to fit into every corner of the cylinder to make a perfectly formed tower. 

Once you’ve stacked all your veggies, gently remove the ring and admire your gorgeous veggie stack. Chef Mel suggests topping with chopped herbs or sweet potato fries for visual and taste appeal.  

Get ready to watch the face of your favorite vegetarian light up when they see this gorgeous dish you’ve created to celebrate them. 

About Chef Mel

Chef Mel, aka The Happy Chef, works to teach new and seasoned chefs how to be happy in their kitchens again by cooking with happiness, confidence and love. Her cookbook, Culinary Quickies, won the International Book Award and was a top finalist in the United States. To learn more about booking opportunities, please visit

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