Burlington chef finds recipe for success as children’s book author

Executive Chef Matteo Paonessa recently whipped up something a little different but delicious in his spare time.

After a decade working in some of Toronto’s finest kitchens, 13 years as chef/owner of Burlington’s Blacktree Restaurant and three years now as Senior Chef at Spencer’s at the Waterfront, Paonessa has turned her artistic hand to the ‘writing.

The first in his three-book “Fish Meets Donkey” children’s book series is out now, and there are many more books and ideas to come, he said.

“I decided to write a children’s book because in each of us, adults, the child remains.”

The book is about friendship, adventure and teamwork.

“The book is really about two complete opposites becoming friends, learning to trust each other, and having many more adventures in the next two books. The book is aimed at ages four to eight, but can be enjoyed by all ages. ages in my opinion,” said the 46-year-old married father of two.

“There’s no real connection to food, but there are little clues in the book that suggest otherwise.”

The author will partner with WaterAid Canada and the PrimRose Donkey Sanctuary near Peterborough, with a percentage of the proceeds from the sale of each book going to these organisations.

Her book reached number 1 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases and number 5 on Amazon’s Best Sellers list on its first day of release, according to publisher Pandamonium Publishing House.

“I was absolutely amazed at the reception the book received; truly a blessing.

“Fish Meets Donkey” will also be available in bookstores from July.

As for the similarities between his two activities?

“Both are full of adventure, creativity and meaning and above all fulfillment.”

Paonessa will be at PrimRose Donkey Sanctuary on June 26 and at Indigo in Ancaster for a book signing on July 3.

Grover Z. Barnes