Chef Cella reopens Angelo’s Bistro
At White Horse Pub & Restaurant, “Chef Cella” filled the seats with people hungry for her style of cooking.
She’s hoping to do the same at Angelo’s Bistro where she took over as head chef this month.
The Walker Arcade eatery had been closed for a year due to the challenges of Covid-19.
Chef Cella, whose name is Marcella Smith, is planning a raft of changes before Angelo Buglione’s bistro has its official reopening “in a couple months”.
“I am joining the team to basically fusion my already huge local following with Angelo’s following – two different demographics,” she said.
“I am more of a comfort, Bermudian, southern food creative. And this is obviously very fresh bistro Italian. My plan is to upgrade the menu with some really fun and innovative food. For instance I can take his fresh tortellini and add a jerk vegetable or something to fusion the two. It isn’t hard but it’s something unheard of [in Bermuda] and I’m just very happy that he’s offering the opportunity to me.”
The “foodie” got her start at Tobacco Bay as a short-order cook. From there she moved on to the Newport Room at the Fairmont Southampton “to learn fine dining”. At Docksider Pub & Restaurant she honed her skills as a chef de partie before returning to Tobacco Bay when it was being revamped by Dennie O’Connor.
Impressed by her efforts the restaurateur transferred Ms Smith to the White Horse when he took it over this year, certain that she could help deliver the “high-quality, consistent, flavourful food” he wanted for customers.
“I’m a foodie at heart,” she said. “I love food. I take it really seriously and, I guess because I’m a mom of three, I had to be creative in the kitchen with my kids. They get bored really quickly and I had to make them eat vegetables without having them know the vegetables were in the food. I guess I was really, really good at it.”
She enrolled at Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts in Boulder, Colorado but wasn’t able to complete the programme.
“I had to work as well, being a single mom,” she said. “I was thrown more into the kitchen and I ended up being a college dropout but I was well taught throughout my journey with chefs.
“My chef told me: ‘Don’t worry about school so much, just worry about learning the kitchen with us.’ Every chef that I worked with basically taught me as I went along. So I’m pretty much self-taught and I came a long way with that.”
As “a Bermudian; a single mom”, the opportunity to lead a kitchen meant “a lot” to her.
“I was determined to show my children and also to show other Bermudians that you can do it. Just keep going forward. I never gave up and that is what [has brought] me to Angelo’s.”
With the business shuttered for the past year, she is excited to reopen it with a new look and a new menu.
“They wanted to revamp a couple of things in the restaurant. With Covid, a lot of the chefs went back home so it was kind of hard, I guess, to pick up and start all over again and find new chefs that were interested in doing the menu.
“We’re hoping to relaunch a complete new restaurant in a couple of months but for now we’re just going to take our time with it. I’m setting up a couple teaser menus, specials, happy hours and stuff like that, just to build the crowd back up; to let them know we’re open again and that we’re here with a new Bermudian chef and a new menu and some creative ideas.”
The “lobsticles” she created became popular menu items at White Horse, Ms Smith wants to “bring some of those concepts” to her new kitchen.
“I definitely believe in farm to table food so it’s amazing that Angelo’s is allowing me to outsource to Tom Wadson’s farm and local commercial fishermen.”
Ms Smith is also excited to assist the restaurant as it moves from serving breakfast and lunch, to lunch and dinner.
“To grab the attention of the locals …. they’re used to a certain thing, you can’t go too far out of the box. I know that by having fresh food here, I know that by having fresh fish here, I also know that our pastas and our pizzas are things that locals like. They’re willing to spend the extra dollars for it.
“Food is expensive in Bermuda. It’s a treat for people to go out to lunch or dinner somewhere. They think of it as an experience and so for me, that’s one of my focuses when I create. I want everyone to have an amazing food experience before they leave the restaurant that I work at.”
Angelo’s Bistro is open from 11.30am to 3pm and from 6pm to 10pm at 12 Reid Street, Hamilton