Jess Fealy

TropicNow Reporter

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Good food and company helps heal wounds of war for Cairns veterans

Popular food joint Martinelli's Pizza Bar is turning the combat zone experience of its owner and chef into a place of healing - and awesome pizza - for local veterans.

Trinity Beach's Peter Martinelli is cooking up something special tonight at the Martinelli Pizza Bar.

Peter is an Afghanistan veteran turned chef, who has decided to host monthly non-profit three course dinners for local on the last Wednesday of each month, starting tonight.

Mr Martinelli told TropicNow he wanted to use his culinary skills to stay connected with his former life as a soldier, undertaking two tours of duty in Afghanistan in 2008 and 2010.

"I wanted to provide somewhere for other veterans to be comfortable and chill out over food," he said.

"Food and company are great healers, and cooking for people I care about is what started me cooking professionally."

Each monthly Veterans’ Dinner will feature a specific menu. Those attending tonight can look forward to a very filling meal which will start with a hearty soup, followed by a pizza main and topped off with a delicious dessert.

Mr Martinelli describes it as being just like a family dinner.

He said the idea for the monthly dinner came about due to his desire to stay connected to his army mates and to give back what he could to the defence community.

"When I discharged from the Army I left some very special people, some of whom are still fighting demons from their time overseas," he said.

"It is heartbreaking not to be there for them, but maybe I can help others who are also struggling.

"This isn’t counselling, it’s just a place to eat and relax among friends."

Mr Martinelli already supports a charity called Mates4Mates, which provides rehabilitation programs for current and ex-serving men and women of the Australian Defence Force.

"All our BYO corkage at the Martinelli Pizza Bar is already going to Mates4Mates, and this dinner is an extension of that,” Mr Martinelli said.

“I like the idea of cooking for other veterans. If I can give them a good night then it’s a win.”

Dinners will be priced at $30 a head for a three course meal with details and prices for upcoming veterans’ nights to be posted on the Martinelli Pizza Bar Facebook page.