Summer Paella Party - Win a Trip to Spain!

Jonathan Harris | June 2020

If you could capture the spirit of Spain in a dish, paella is what I would choose. Paella is a deceivingly simple dish, but it becomes so much more once quality ingredients and the passion of the cook are added to the recipe. Excellent paella rice is a must, along with flavorful saffron from La Mancha and good Spanish extra virgin olive oil. But the most important ingredient is the communal spirit of paella. It is a dish to be shared, with friends and family helping to prep the ingredients and enjoying a glass of wine as the paella bubbles and aroma filled steam rises into the air. When the paella is finally served, it is a celebration, not just a meal, as everyone helps themselves to the paella and scrapes the socarrat from the bottom of the pan.

This month we decided to throw a virtual summer paella party for our customers, where you can submit photos of your favorite paella to share with the community. With all the stress and chaos in the world right now, we can think of no better time to come together and share our love of Spain and paella! And we have a very special grand prize – a free trip to Spain for two courtesy of Foods & Olive Oil from Andalusia, Spain and Extenda! The trip will include airfare and accommodations for two people, with visits to some of our favorite suppliers (of course, the trip will be made when safe international travel is possible.) Before I hear an outcry from Valencianos out there, I must state that we know that paella originated in Valencia, not Andalusia! But a trip to Sevilla is not a bad prize, nonetheless.

We are honored to have an amazing panel of six notable judges, including chefs and personalities Aarthi Sampath, George Mendes, Katie Button, Klancy Miller, Ramón Martínez and Seamus Mullen. They have generously donated their time to review all the tasty paella photos and choose the winners.

We will be donating a portion of our sales from the judges’ curated selections to benefit chef José Andrés’ organization World Central Kitchen, our longtime charitable partner. During this unprecedented crisis, WCK has provided millions of hot meals to people in need. WCK also runs a program called #ChefsForAmerica, a coalition of restaurants working together to provide meals to Americans who need assistance. This nationwide effort feeds those in need, as well as guarantees a reliable and recurring stream of revenue for our wonderful restaurants to keep them in business. We are honored to participate, and our tapas bar in Williamsburg has delivered thousands of meals to the hungry in our community.

So, pull out your pan and cook the best paella you have ever made, we can’t wait to see the photos!

A special thanks to Foods from Andalusia, Spain and Olive Oil from Andalusia, Spain - programs supported by the Autonomous Region of Andalusia, a beautiful land of warm and engaging people, fabled castles, endless beaches and olive groves which stretch beyond the horizon. The foods and wines of Andalusia are legendary, from exceptional extra virgin olive oil to world renowned wines. Andalusia is sponsoring the grand prize, which includes airfare, lodging and special visits to food and wine producers across the region.

More about our amazing judges:

Chef Aarthi Sampath - Aarthi is the sous chef at New York City's iconic Rainbow Room. After working in the kitchens of Taj Hotels' top properties in Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai and Hyderabad, Sampath went on to work in some of New York City's most esteemed restaurants including The Breslin and Michelin-starred Junoon. Chef Sampath is a Chopped champion, later competing in Chopped Masters and Beat Bobby Flay, where she won with her flavorful, fragrant Biryani.

Chef George Mendes - Prior to opening his first restaurant, ALDEA, in May 2009, Portuguese chef George Mendes spent seventeen years honing his culinary craft under the guidance of some of the world’s greatest culinary masters including Bouley, Arpege, Lespinasse and Basque chef Martin Berasategui’s eponymous three-star Michelin. At New York City’s Aldea, Mendes’s rustic yet refined cuisine has earned the restaurant numerous accolades including a Michelin star each year since 2010, along with glowing two-star reviews from both New York magazine and The New York Times. In 2011, Mendes received one of the industry’s most coveted honors when he was named one of Food & Wine magazine’s ten “Best New Chefs.”

Chef Katie Button - Four-time James Beard Award nominee Katie Button is the executive chef and co-owner of Asheville, North Carolina's beloved Cúrate Bar de Tapas, La Bodega by Cúrate, Tillie Hall event space and Appalachian-inspired bagel shop Button & Co. Bagels. A Southern chef with a scientific mind, Button honed her craft in the kitchens of some of the world's best chefs, most notably Ferran Adrià and José Andrés, before venturing out to open her own restaurant with husband Felix Meana and her family.

Chef and Personality Klancy Miller - Klancy Miller is the New York-based founder of For the Culture: A Magazine Celebrating Black Women in Food and Wine and the author of Cooking Solo: The Fun of Cooking for Yourself. She earned her diplôme de pâtisserie from Le Cordon Bleu Paris, has appeared on the Food Network and Cooking Channel and contributes to publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, Cherry Bombe and more.

Chef Ramón Martínez - Ramón Martínez is the Culinary Director of JALEO, Jose Andrés’ award-winning tapas concept and the nation’s first critically and commercially successful Spanish restaurant that helped to launch the small plates craze in America, with locations in Washington D.C., Las Vegas and Disney Springs in Orlando. A native of Terrassa, Spain, Martinez worked at the finest restaurants throughout the country before moving to Washington, D.C.

Chef and Author Seamus Mullen - Seamus Mullen is an award-winning chef, cookbook author and health and wellness expert. Mullen spent his early career in Spain working in some of the country’s most highly regarded kitchens before returning to New York City, where he owned and operated the critically acclaimed restaurants Boqueria, Tertulia and El Colmado. He currently lives in Los Angeles, CA and shares his story through his podcast “goopfellas” as well as speaking engagements and workshops around the world.