There’s something about Christmas time that makes me feel like baking. I love to sit…
For the last three years, apprentice chef Matt Morrissey has been on a journey of culinary self-discovery.
“Cooking has been a huge part of my life, ever since I was in High School in Victoria. Our teacher wouldn’t let our group cook if we didn’t all bring our tea towels and I used to get a little bit cranky with the boys who forgot their tea towels…[ever] since then it’s been such a big part of my life.”
Matt started out in a lengthy and rewarding career with the public service in a variety of media based roles for various government departments including managing the relationship between Australian Customs and the Channel 7 Border Security show and being the media campaign manager for the Australian Federal Police.
However, in 2012 while working for The ACT government, he was diagnosed with depression. “I guess for me that was when I really started to have a think about what I was doing and from that point I realised I needed to make some changes to the way I was living” says Matt. “I’ve always told my children that they need to be happy in what they do in terms of school or sports so in that regard I decided that I had to start practicing what I preached.”
In light of this revelation, Matt quit his job and enrolled at CIT Canberra in a Certificate III in Commercial Cookery to follow his culinary passion. He now works as an apprentice chef at Bentspoke Brewery in Braddon where he says the marriage of beer and food is a creative challenge he relishes.
“It is one of the most stressful jobs that I’ve ever had, but also the most rewarding. It really is a delight at Bentspoke, cooking with beer every day and trying to match the different beers that Richard [owner and head brewer at Bentspoke] brews with food. Beers and dessert are not something you’d think would go hand in hand but actually, when selected carefully, they can be a great match.”
Matt is now setting his sights on his culinary future in which, after the completion of his Certificate III, he’s hoping to publish a series of children’s cookbooks under the name ‘The Social Chef’. The books will be illustrated by Canberra local Raisa Kross and have been formulated and written over a number of years. Matt says that ideally he’d like to publish five books, starting with The Social Chef and the Case of the Missing Lemons.
The aim for the books is to “get kids under ten years old interested in cooking” through “fun and engaging stories” says Matt. Each book will contain at least two recipes that relate to the story to kids can create the food from the narrative themselves.
Matt says his motivation for the books is to capitalise on the spotlight that cooking and food have received through such shows as My Kitchen Rules and Masterchef and to inspire children to think about their food from a young age. “There’s still a great divide within young children, I think. You’ll find some children are already very passionate and know many things about food…but there’s still children out there that wouldn’t be able to identify common fruits and vegetables because they’re not provided with that opportunity.”
“For me, if you can learn skills in the kitchen from a young age I think they can go with you right throughout your life” says Matt, “I think at least if you have those basic fundamental skills you’re set for life.”
Matt is currently looking to raise $15,000 through Kickstarter to fund the production and publication of The Social Chef children’s book series.
As a special offer for HerCanberra readers, any reader who pledges $30 or more towards The Social Chef project on Kickstarter will (if the project is successfully funded) go into the draw to win a home cooked dinner for six cooked by Matt himself!
Go to the link below to help Matt achieve his goals and for the chance to win a dinner party for you and five friends! Just make sure to put in your pledge description that you heard about The Social Chef through HerCanberra to go into the draw.
Please note that any money you pledge through Kickstarter will only be deducted from your account if and when the goal of $15,000 is reached.
THE SOCIAL CHEF’S MONTE CARLOS
For the biscuits:
- 190g butter – softened
- 1tsp vanilla extract
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1¼ cups self raising flour
- ¾ cup plain flour
- ½ cup desiccated coconut
- ¼ cup raspberry jam
For the cream filling
- 70g butter
- 1tsp vanilla extract
- 120g icing sugar
- 2tsp milk
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line two baking trays with baking paper.
- Place softened butter, vanilla extract, brown sugar and the egg into a medium size bowl and beat until smooth.
- Add the sifted flours and coconut to the biscuit mix in two batches and stir to combine all ingredients.
- Roll teaspoons of the biscuit mixture into round or oval shapes (whatever you prefer) and place on baking trays.
- Rough up the surface with a fork.
- Bake biscuits for 12 minutes.
- Allow to cool on a wire rack.
- Meanwhile, make the cream filling by beating butter, vanilla extract and icing sugar in a bowl until smooth. Add the milk and beat through, creating a nice creamy, spreadable paste.
- Sandwich the biscuits with cream mix and raspberry jam.