Looking to celebrate Mother’s Day without having to cook?
Bermuda’s own Antonio Belvedere, also known in local culinary circles as Chef Toto, plans to make a Mother’s Day mark of his own.
Now in a second year of COVID restrictions, he said he was forced to make the decision again to step back out of the restaurant industry and give it a go on his own.
The first time around was before the global pandemic set in, when he left Bermuda Bistro at the Beach a few years ago to do private catering while running the cafeteria at the Bermuda College.
“This time around I went out on my own again to continue my catering, private chef services, meal prep services and I also have fire pit tables as well also called ‘Rolling Smoke’. That’s been going pretty good because everything is outside,” he said.
“For the past year the fire pit tables have been going really well and so is the private chef services.
“A lot of people have been staying on island and they want a different experience in an Airbnb or in their own house. So yes, COVID definitely made me just jump back into doing my own thing because a lot of things are up in the air with restaurants. It still is a year later.”
Mother’s Day 2021 will mark the first time he plans to produce a brunch, fully prepared without clients who book the service having to lift a finger.
“The Mother’s Day brunch is the first time I’m doing it this way because of the COVID lockdown,” said Mr Belvedere.
“I know people want to do something and it’s looking like we might be able to mix households by that time. So I figured why not offer something different.
“People are going to be staying at home anyway. It’s not like there is anywhere else to go – so why not.”
With the island’s restaurants closed for indoor dining on top of the current lockdown, he said: “I feel that people have been cooking a lot more than they used to.
“When we were first on lockdown I was doing Instagram lives and I was doing cooking demos for the whole month and teaching people how to cook. And I think that was actually a good thing because a lot of people were asking a lot of questions. Some of them were pretty easy questions and some of them were more advanced.
“People are cooking a lot more now because we’ve had restaurants closed and people are working from home, so they’re probably trying to save some dollars. But they definitely are taking catering and private chef services to kind of give themselves a break,” he added.
The closing date to preorder is Monday, May 3, and so far he said the feedback and pre-paid orders are going “pretty good”.
“I’ve had a lot of people questioning and have a good bit of bookings already – paid and booked so that’s good. We’re just hoping that everything stays the same and that we really do open up soon.”
Asked if leaving a full-time job as a chef a second time around was a hard decision to make as this pandemic rages on, he said: “It was really just my time to go.
“I was working a lot less hours and I went on the Government benefit and the Government benefit is nothing. So that’s pretty much why I went into my own thing.
“I was kind of forced to because people wanted me to do things for them so it worked out.”
When asked for his favourite booking as a private chef so far, he said : “This last Valentine’s Day cooking in the trees at Southlands.
“But I love ideas like that. I love different things so I was in 100 percent from the start – I never questioned anything.”
On that note he said it all comes with the territory because: “Being a chef we work under pressure and we make things happen.
“And that was just what that was.”
Now he’s looking forward to a busy week ahead.
Happy Mother’s Day!