PACO Perez’s English is not the strongest; nor is Matty White’s Catalan (or Spanish), so Fazenda boss Tomas Maunier acted as interpreter when the two met for this video interview about his Manchester project, Tast Cuina Catalana.
That was back in March at the Northern Restaurant Bar trade show after the multi-Michelin starred executive chef had flown in from Catalonia to promote the restaurant championing the cuisine of that region.
Then the King Street premises, formerly home to Quill and Suri, were a rudimentary shell; now the race is on to get them in perfect order for the public launch on Friday, July 20.
Tast will have 120 covers over three floors, with a casual dining and bar area on the ground floor, a first-floor dining room and a second floor with private rooms offering a tasting menu. As well as serving traditional Catalan starters and mains, the Tast menu will offer ‘tastets’ – small portions and nibbles to savour and to share.
Its profile couldn’t be higher with individual backers that include the Manchester City exec trio of Txiki Begiristain, Ferran Soriano and manager Pep Guardiola. They have teamed up with independent South American specialists Fazenda, whose Manchester restaurant is not far away in Spinningfields.
Paco is already patron-chef of two Michelin 2* restaurants – Miramar, in Llançà ) and Enoteca at the Arts Hotel in Barcelona, a city where he has six restaurants in all. He is also behind the Michelin 1* Restaurant Cinco at the Hotel Das Stue in Berlin.
His head chef at Tast will be Miquel Villacrosa (above, briefing the team this week), formerly head chef at Cinco after a year at Miramar. Miquel, 27, is a Catalan who grew up in Sant Hilari Sacalm, a small mountain town where he helped out in his parents’ restaurant.
Paco himslef plans to cook at Tast for a couple of days every three weeks. “I want to get to know Manchester and I'll be trying to incorporate some local produce into what we do. But the restaurant will be Catalan and some products you can only get there, so we will bring them over.
"What's our ambition? That people enjoy it. That we can show the best of Catalan food and drink, quite distinct from other regions of Spain, and that we can make everyone who comes in feels a bit special.”
Tast Cuina Catalana, 20-22 King Street Manchester, M2 6AG. Bookings from July 1 on 0161 806 0547 or firstname.lastname@example.org