TRIBUTES have been paid to an Italian chef who ran three restaurants across the North-East after moving to Britain 38 years ago.

Gabriele Ferola moved to Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, in 1976 from Sorrento, Italy, to find work.

Mr Ferola, who worked in ice cream vans and as a waiter in various restaurants across the city, died of cancer last Tuesday. (May 6)

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He ran Gabriele’s Restaurant, in Bishop Auckland, and another of the same name in Darlington, as well as the Bistro Italiano, in Durham.

Alan Young, a friend of Mr Ferola, said: “He was a really nice person and he would do anything for anyone.

“He came to England as there was no work in Italy and he wanted to make a living. He went on to make a success of it.

“He was a chef who went on to train up lots of chefs across the North-East.”

Mr Ferola, of Bamburgh Avenue, in Bishop Auckland, had three brothers and a sister. He met his wife, Anita, while working in Sunderland and they married in 1978.

The couple, who have four children Anthony, Imma, Anna and Maria, moved back to the Sorrento area for two years before returning to Sunderland.

In 1985 they opened Gabriele’s, on Flintoff Street, in Bishop Auckland, before venturing into Darlington.

The second Gabriele’s opened on Bondgate, now the Tapas Bar, in the early 1990s. The restaurant was later sold.

Bistro Italiano, on Claypath, in Durham, was set up in 2000.

The Bishop Auckland restaurant was sold in 2003 to Mr Young and his wife Maria and they have since sold it on.

The Durham venture is still run by Mr Ferola’s family.

Mr Ferola’s funeral is at St Mary’s Church, in Bishop Auckland, at 10.30am tomorrow (Monday, May 12) followed by burial at the town’s cemetery.