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A South American chef, whose expertise with spices has wowed diners at some of the North East’s top restaurants, is to head the team at Tyneside’s newest venue.

Brazilian Bruno Palma has been appointed head chef at El Paso, a new 100-cover restaurant set to open at the former Scalini’s site at Osborne Road, Jesmond, in April.

The restaurant, owned by Newcastle-based Malhotra Group plc, will have a strong Latino, Mexican and Spanish influence with tapas menus alongside more conventional starters, mains and desserts.

And Bruno, formerly chef manager at the acclaimed Riley’s Fish Shack at Tynemouth, was specifically recruited for his skill and expertise in the use of spices and herbs in flavouring dishes from a variety of continents.

Originally from San Paulo, he came to England in 2004, starting his culinary career in London.

After moving to the North East in 2007 he held senior positions at Adriano’s and Allard’s Lounge, Gosforth and at The Silk Rooms, at Quayside before joining the highly successful Riley’s Fish Shack in 2016.

“What separates his dishes from the rest is that he understands better than any chef we have met how to use flavourings,” said Malhotra Group plc’s director of operations, Atul Malhotra.

“Spices don’t just belong in Indian cookery – they can enhance everything from a simple omelette to a grilled fish dish and they are a key element of the South American inspired dishes we’ll be serving at El Paso.

“We are delighted that a chef of Bruno’s calibre is to lead the team.”

El Paso, which is part of a £5m development of the New Northumbria Hotel site, will also have a private dining area for parties and celebrations and Bruno said, “I can’t wait to get started and bring something a little different to the thriving Newcastle restaurant scene.

“This will give me a great opportunity to introduce some of the dishes I grew up with in South America and to re-introduce diners to familiar dishes cooked and flavoured in a truly authentic way.”

For more information about El Paso, please visit www.elpasojesmond.co.uk .

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