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Chef tries crowdfunding to launch restaurant

Antonio Belvedere, seen here working as head chef at Bermuda Bistro in 2013, is keen to open his own restaurant, Peppino's, specialising in Bermudian and Italian fusion cuisine

A young chef has turned to crowdfunding to cook up a second chance in the restaurant business.

Antonio Belvedere ran Peppino’s Catering and Personal Chef Service out of the Bermuda College cafeteria for a little more than a year.

When the restaurant closed two months ago, he started a Go Fund Me page to raise a minimum of $500,000 to resurrect it in a different location.

“So far, I haven’t had any donations,” he said. “But I haven’t lost hope as a couple of people have offered to be investors. I’m nowhere near where I need to be, though.”

The 28-year-old estimated that it would probably take about five years to raise the money.

“I thought crowdsourcing would be a chance,” he said. “I see a lot of people doing it now. The banks aren’t really giving out a lot in loans to small businesses right now. I thought, let’s try it out and see if it will work.”

He blames his business closure on a lack of research.

“I wanted to run Peppino’s out of the Bermuda College because I’d done all my culinary education there,” he said. “I got my foundation from there.”

He soon found that college students did not have a lot of extra money to spend on food.

“The next time around I will do more research,” he said.

He graduated from Bermuda College in May 2012 and had a stint as executive chef at Bermuda Bistro before starting Peppino’s.

Menu items included wraps, paninis and burgers. Now, his dream is to rebrand as a Bermudian and Italian fusion cuisine restaurant.

“I always wanted to be a chef and started as a junior bus boy at Portofino’s when I was 12,” he said. He was inspired by his father, Giuessppi Belvedere, an Italian who loved to cook.

“He came here as a waiter on a cruise ship,” said Mr Belvedere. “He went into the bank to change his money and my mother, Cathy, was working as a bank teller.”

His father’s speciality was a lasagne with boiled egg on top, a speciality of his region in Calabria in southern Italy.

His father died a few years ago, after a two-year battle with cancer.

“Peppino’s is named after him,” said Mr Belvedere. “Peppino is a nickname for Giuessppi, which is also my middle name.”

Mr Belvedere is a grill man and loves cooking meat.

“I make a great pulled jerk pork that I grill for hours,” he said.

He would like to eventually write a Bermudian-Italian fusion cookbook.

In the past three years, Mr Belvedere has won a number of awards, including a trophy from the City of Hamilton Food Festival.

He was also named chef of the month in The Bermudian magazine in October 2012.

He now works for Nonna’s Kitchen, does some catering and acts as a personal chef each summer for a family in Tucker’s Town.

“I am just looking for a chance really,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity to change up the culinary field in Bermuda.”

• Look for him on Facebook or visit www.gofundme.com/Peppinos to help.