Head chef finds ‘dream job’ - bringing true taste of Mexico to Hastings
A new food trailer in Hastings town centre is offering customers an authentic taste of Mexican street food.
El Changarro has been given a permanent pitch outside the entrance to the shopping mall in Priory Meadow, and now plans to do deliveries.
Owners Khalesh Paul, 52, and his wife Catalina Gomez, 48, specialise in tacos and are trying to keep the flavours as authentic as possible.
“We opened just over one month ago and the business is going really well. We’ve got regular customers week by week,” said Khalesh. “The feedback is 100% positive. Once people have tried our food once, they keep coming back.”
He added: “My wife Catalina moved over here three years ago after a long visa process. It took three years to get her over here, and then after travelling back and forth to Mexico for a number of years, we saw a gap in the market.
“Nobody was doing 100% authentic Mexican food. This is not Tex-Mex. It’s the real deal, so there’s no burritos or chilli con carne or nachos, none of that. It’s all real corn tacos and freshly-made salsas.”
He worked as a head chef at the Two Bulls Steakhouse in Hastings Old Town for several years. When the restaurant was forced to close in the pandemic, he spent hours sitting on the sofa wondering what to do. Then they decided to open El Changarro (meaning small shop).
“We’re really happy,” said Khalesh. “It’s my dream come true to work for myself. It’s a lot of hard work, even more hard work than working for someone else in some ways, because there’s a lot of pressure, but I still love it. It’s amazing.”
He says what he loves about Mexican food is its vibrant colours and rich history. His favourite dish is their special, El Changarro (£6.95) - flash-fried slices of steak marinated in Mexican beer, chillies, coriander and lime, and served in a soft corn taco shell.
They also serve chicken soup topped with coriander and green chillies (£3.95), and gorditas (£4.95) - fried corn cakes stuffed with potato and Mexican-style chorizo, or refried spicy beans. Also a wide range of meat and vegan tacos, served with different types of salsa, for £5.45.
Catalina said: “It’s an exciting adventure. We’ve been receiving very good comments about our food and I think now people are starting to know better what is the real Mexican food.”
They hope to start doing deliveries via Just Eat in the next couple of weeks. They serve food from 11am to 5pm Tuesday to Sunday, and plan to open later until 9pm on Friday and Saturdays.