A woman with over 20 years’ experience in the restaurant business has brought a touch of French chic to a popular Italian themed eatery in a Wrexham shopping centre.

Celine Larnicol, who has just taken over as manager of Pizza Express at Eagles Meadow, is originally from the French coastal region of Brittany.

But she’s been in the UK since she was in her early 20s after a six-week spell of work experience tuned into something a little more permanent.

Celine, 39, said: “I come from Finistère on the west coast of northern France and started off my career working in restaurants in that area.

“I came over to the UK in 1998 when I was in my early twenties to do what should just have been just six weeks of work experience but I liked it so much that I just stayed.

“I often joke that I’m still here because I just keep on missing the plane back to France!

“When I first arrived I had jobs at restaurants in Liverpool and over the water on the Wirral.

“The places I worked in Liverpool were in the city centre and on the Wirral it was the Pizza Express in Heswall.”

Celine added: “I think you could say I know the business from top to bottom because my first jobs in restaurants were as a kitchen porter. I then gradually worked my way up the promotion ladder, first becoming a waitress, then supervisor and eventually a manager.

“My first managerial role was in 2000 at a restaurant in Bold Street, Liverpool and after a few years I opened my own restaurant on the city’s Mount Pleasant, which I eventually ran for three years before going to work for other people again.”

Celine and her partner, Tony Ringwood, still live on the Wirral. Their home is in the Prenton area and the couple have one son, six-year-old Aiden.

She says she is looking forward tremendously to the challenge of taking the helm at Pizza Express in Eagles Meadow.

“It’s a very busy restaurant and it’s brilliant. I already love it here. I have a team of about six people working with me and they are all so good at what they do that the place virtually runs itself,” she said.

“I also think that Eagles Meadow is a great place to be based. I like the way all the businesses here just seem to fit together so well and I particularly love the fountains on the Spanish Steps which give it a real continental flavour.”

Eagles Meadow manager Kevin Critchley said:  “I’d like to welcome Celine to the centre. I am sure she will be a great asset to Pizza Express.”