A pre-opening launch party for ‘Tast’ restaurant in Manchester on Thursday 12th July 2018 was an authentic celebration of Catalan food and wine. The new venture, backed by Pep Guardiola, Txiki Begiristain and Ferran Soriano in personal capacities, sees multi-Michelin star chef Paco Pérez play his first executive chef role in the UK.
Pérez is the renowned international patron-chef of two Michelin 2* restaurants – Miramar, in Llançà, (Girona) 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. The head chef at Tast is Miquel Villacrosa, 27, formerly head chef at Restaurant Cinco after seven years working under Paco Perez, including a year in the kitchen at Miramar.
The party was attended by very special guests including Manchester City assistant coaches Mikel Arteta and Brian Kidd and former Manchester City player Mike Summerbee. Dignitaries attending included the former Chief Executive of Manchester City Council Sir Howard Bernstein; the President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Manchester Dame Nancy Rothwell; and BBC TV presenter Naga Munchetty.
Despite Paco Pérez’s record, Tast is not pursuing awards, but will simply create a warm and friendly atmosphere for anyone wishing to experience the best of Catalan food and drink. As well as serving traditional Catalan starters and mains, the Tast menu offers ‘tastets’ – small portions and nibbles to savour and to share.
Party guests were served Paco’s favourite selection from the menu authentic Catalan tastets served at the party included Ou d’Ànec, Xipirons I Salsa Tàrtara (duck egg, baby calamari, potato, tartare sauce) and Arròs de Bosc Arròs de Bosc (mushrooms, old cow sirloin, padron peppers), followed by dessert of Xuixo De Crema I Xocolata (puff pastry, custard, dark chocolate) and a Catalan cheeseboard.
Guests were served Catalan wines – Anna Blanc de Blancs, Brut, Codorníu on arrival, and to accompany the dishes, a Perfum, Can Sumoi, Penedès 2017 and a Les Sorts Jove, Celler Masroig, Montsant 2017.
Tast Cuina Catalana, roughly translates into English as ‘Taste from the Catalan Kitchen.’ Tast has 120-covers over three floors, with Pinya, a casual dining and bar area on the ground floor; Folre, a first-floor dining room with open kitchen; and a second floor Enxaneta, with private dining rooms offering a tasting menu.
Paco Pérez says: “We are delighted to bring the Catalan cuisine to Manchester and to be part of the amazing team behind Tast. We are going back to our Catalan roots, with traditional cooking with an open kitchen, where you can see and smell the cooking and you can feel at home. Tast is an ‘easy’ restaurant where everyone is welcome.”
Sandra Martorell, Director of Tast Group, said: “We Catalan people are passionate about food and tradition. With Tast we want to introduce our guests to the traditional flavours of our Catalan cuisine and wine, all in a relaxed atmosphere and with a welcoming team.”
Along with the fast-expanding numbers of people living in the city, the eating out scene in Manchester city centre is experiencing strong growth, with a 37% increase in the number of restaurants in the last five years.
Operators of Tast are the independent Fazenda group, whose directors’ passion for South American cuisine has made their award-winning ‘rodizio’ grilled meat restaurants in Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester (and recent Edinburgh opening) a great popular success. Fazenda director Tomas Maunier says: “We are hugely excited to be working with these amazing creative talents. Catalonia has a distinctive identity and culture from that of Spain and we will be introducing people to its wonderful tastes and flavours. It was with great pleasure that we laid on a classic Catalan welcome for our guests. Paco has a massive reputation and we will serve some of his and Pep’s favourite Catalan dishes, both traditional and with innovative modern twists.”