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Maidstone: US chef Johnny Hernandez talks tacos and taste at his new MEXico restaurant in Earl Street

By Angela Cole

If you’re thinking of tucking in to some of Johnny Hernandez’s authentic Mexican food, you’re in good company.

The American chef has cooked for the Obamas, in the White House, no less, so he’s got a high level seal of approval.

Now the chef, whose interest in food started at five at his father’s restaurant in a San Antonio Westside neighbourhood with the aroma of freshly made tortillas wafting from the door, is widely regarded as the best Mexican cuisine chef in America.

Johnny Hernandez, the US chef behind MEXico in Maidstone

Johnny Hernandez, the US chef behind MEXico in Maidstone

After opening his first restaurant in 1994 he is branching out overseas, with MEXico in Maidstone’s Earl Street the second in a new chain to open.

He said: “It is as exciting launching a new restaurant now as it was doing the first. I love to see it come together. I am very committed to this. It is important for me to be very connected to the food, the service and the design, so I will be here in Maidstone every other month.”

But can he sell Mexican food to Kent folk? “I think it’s very new over here, still. We wanted to make it exciting to someone who is new to it, but also not too intimidating for someone who has never tried it before.

“We took a very simple approach to how we did the menu but there are some new dishes which are a little more edgy.

“Mexicans love their spices and flavours and textures – that’s what makes Mexican food so delicious. For a first timer, our tacos are very approachable, fresh and not spicy. They are quite safe! And our enchiladas are unique.”

MEXico has dishes for first timers and fans of Mexican food

MEXico has dishes for first timers and fans of Mexican food

The restaurant in Maidstone’s Earl Street has had quite a colourful Mexican-themed makeover inside, too.

“I wanted the space to also embody the authenticity of what we were trying to do without being too intimidating,” Johnny said. “The site has been re-imagined inside – we wanted vibrancy, texture and colour.

“I thought if we created an exciting and interesting space it would pull people in and we took a chance on it.”

Johnny Hernandez talks customers at MEXico in Maidstoe through the menu

Johnny Hernandez talks customers at MEXico in Maidstoe through the menu

The restaurant also serves a mean cocktail and organisers hope it could become a mecca for after work drinks for Maidstonians, providing a taste of the atmosphere.

The restaurant has a director of beverage innovations, showing the importance Johnny and his team place on drinks enhancing customers’ Mexican experience.


DETAILS

Find MEXico at 58 Earl Street, Maidstone, just off Fremlin Walk. For details call 01622 620382, email maidstone@mexicorestaurants.co.uk or go to mexicorestaurants.co.uk/maidstone

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