RESCUERS SAY
HAIL TO THE CHEF

By RITA DELFINER
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NINO VENDOME
Altruistic caterer.

July 20, 2002 -- On Sept. 13, Antonio "Nino" Vendome turned his restaurant near Ground Zero into a home away from home for workers at the disaster site - one that dished up free food around the clock for five months.
Nino's Restaurant at 431 Canal St. became a relief center that served more than 500,000 meals thanks to 10,000 volunteers who ladled out both comfort food and support.

"It was America's kitchen, that's what it was," said Vendome.

Both individuals and corporations pitched in with $2 million in monetary and food donations, with Vendome spending $100,000 of his own money.

Frankie Coll-Perez, a volunteer, was one of two people who nominated Vendome for The Post's Ambassador Medal.

Nino's Restaurant, which closed in February, is set to reopen, "hopefully by early September," said Vendome, a 50-year-old father of two.

Its walls are still covered with messages from grieving and grateful people in the United States and around the world.

Vendome hopes diners seeing those walls leave "with a feeling that they're a part of something very important, which the world knows as America and we know as home."

During its off hours, Nino's will again welcome former Ground Zero workers in a program with Columbia University and New York Presbyterian Hospital, which will offer counseling services.
http://www.nypost.com/news/regionalnews/19372.htm

AMERICA THANKS YOU, "NINO"