Award-winning chef joins new Market Hall venture

New flavour: Paulo at his new restaurant in the Market Hall
New flavour: Paulo at his new restaurant in the Market Hall
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An award-winning chef and top cocktail mixologist are aiming to wow foodies at a new Mexican and Spanish tapas restaurant in Preston.

Agenda Tapacea has opened in the former Smartwear Uniform Shop in the Market Hall.

Restaurant manager Paulo Freire said: “There wasn’t a Mexican restaurant in the city centre, or one serving Spanish and Mexican food together, so we spotted a gap in the market. It’s good for the city centre to have more variety in terms of restaurants and bars.”

Paulo, who has worked as a flavour expert for drinks companies including Havana Club, Bacardi and Red Bull, pulled off a coup by persuading award-winning chef Manuella Pancas to join the team.

He said: “She was head chef at Casa Mexico for 19 years, one of Europe’s top restaurants, and because I used to work with her, I managed to persuade her to come over. We’re very lucky to get her because I’ve seen people waiting for four hours to get a seat for her food. The way she does dishes is unique.

“We’ve also got Sandra Triguero from Madrid, who produces all of our authenic Spanish dishes.

“South American food is really taking off at the moment, and the next 10 years is going to be a real boom time for that cuisine.”

Paulo said the restaurant site was chosen because of its proximity to the market car park, which is free of charge at certain times, and because a lot of the food is sourced from the market.

He said: “It’s a good location - it’s got the car park very close by and it’s very central - you can’t miss it. Local councillors are very pleased that we’ve made an investment into the market hall, which has been been subject to a lot of criticism recently.”