A Kingston restaurant owner delivered free pizzas to NHS workers, emergency responders and children in need throughout 2020 despite a challenging year for business.
Giuseppe Prestigiacomo, 47, is the owner of Peppe Restaurant in Kingston, and spent most of the year giving away his fresh Italian meals to those most affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
The father-of-two donated free pizzas and pasta dishes to Kingston Hospital workers, the Ham Fire Brigade and the New Malden ambulance crew since the first national lockdown began in March.
Prestigiacomo, best known as Peppe, said: “It’s something that’s on my heart and I like to help a lot.
“Good food is at its best when it helps the community.”
During October half term, the chef gave away 30 meals each day to struggling children following the Government’s controversial decision to vote against an extension of the free school meals scheme.
As England entered its second national lockdown in early November, Prestigiacomo announced he would donate free meals to all NHS workers who order from his restaurant.
Peppe Restaurant has suffered like many small businesses this year but despite the challenges, Prestigiacomo is committed to helping those in need as he remembers financial hardship when first moving to London in 2000.
He said: “I like to share not because I have a lot, but because I know what it means to have nothing.”
Prestigiacomo emigrated from Sicily with the goal of bringing quality Italian cuisine to south west London, but his mission soon extended beyond producing good food, and he set about investing in local community projects.
He was passionate about supporting underfunded state schools and began attending various fundraising events, where he sold pizzas and donated all the proceeds to the school.
Prestigiacomo did the same for local churches, and today, he continues to raise money for the Shooting Star Children’s Hospice and Kington Homeless Centre.
He said: “Sometimes we have to stop and recognise people who have much less than what we’ve got.”
Prestigiacomo’s generosity has become increasingly recognised over the years and he has become well-known and highly regarded in the area.
Laura Ercolani, a Kingston resident and nutritionist said: “The amount of work, effort and money he’s put into helping others is incredible.
“He only runs a small restaurant but he shares whatever he can with the local community.”
Comments on his social media posts reflect the same sentiment.
One commenter said: “All I’ve seen you do is support others through difficult times, you’re amazing.
“Hero of 2020 in my eyes. Bravo.”
Prestigiacomo’s sense of social responsibility was instilled in him by his parents and he and his wife, Joanna, are committed to teaching these same values to their daughters Julia, 11, and Alexandra, 8.
He said: “We have to help each other with the little that we have.
“It might be small for us, but it’s a lot for someone else.”