Matt’s lemon meringues with a message

Author and chef Matt Morrissey… “Food and the kitchen are at the centre of our memories and are the foundation for many traditions.” Photo by Danielle Nohra

COOKING is an important life skill, says author and chef Matt Morrissey, who is inspiring children into the kitchen with his new book “The Social Chef and the Case of the Missing Lemons”.

“When you know the basics of cooking, you can get yourself through life,” says Matt, 44, of Jerrabomberra.

“I want to provide children with a lifelong love for cooking through reading fun and engaging stories.”

Even though Matt started as a chef later in life, he says he’s always loved food and is a big advocate for people being able to cook.

“Food and the kitchen are at the centre of our memories and are the foundation for many traditions,” he says.

“And through these books, I hope to create experiences that bring people together for life’s joyful moments.”

Matt has had the idea of The Social Chef to inspire children to get cooking for many years and launched the first one recently.

“I used to love reading to my children and have always been an advocate of people being able to cook,” he says.

“I’ve always loved food. It’s always been a big part of my life.

“Mum was always cooking in the kitchen when I was a young child.”

“Yellow in colour, ‘The Social Chef and the Case of the Missing Lemons’ sees The Social Chef waking up dreaming about lemon meringue pie,” he says.

“But the adventures begin when he discovers the lemons from his tree have gone missing.”

He chose a focus on lemon-meringue pies because he loved them as a child and he also liked the idea of having a bright and fun book, so the colour yellow seemed perfect.

Matt says it’s such a great feeling to see photos of children with lemon-meringue pies they’ve made themselves after reading the book.

“The Social Chef and the Case of the Missing Lemons” will eventually be followed by other bright-coloured books, each with at least two recipes that relate to the story,” he says.

“At the moment there’s four books written but this is the first published,” he says.

Matt is eager to get the other books in the Social Chef series published, but has been distracted by a cooking opportunity, which sees him and his partner Katie leasing the restaurant at Lake George Winery.

Before entering the kitchen professionally Matt was a musician in the Royal Australian Navy Band playing trumpet, french horn and drums for more than 10 years before working in the private and public sector doing media and marketing.

He loved media and had exciting jobs such as helping manage the relationship between Channel 7 and Customs for the production of “Border Security”.

But around the age of 40 he was hit with depression, which was when he decided to do something that makes him happy.

“I decided to change my career and start as an apprentice chef,” he says.

“I was going to school with people my children’s age. I was doing dishes and cleaning floors.

“You really are starting from the bottom of a career and unless you’re going to immerse yourself in the apprenticeship and start again then I don’t think you’ll succeed.”

But it was worth it.

“It was everything I dreamed of and probably a little more,” he says.

“If you want to chase your dreams, you have to be able to make those sacrifices.”

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