I have been sharing my passion and the art of cooking Spanish Paella with friends and family for over 20 years!
The “Culinary Performance Chef of Paella”
On any given weekend, you will find me with my very large paella pan and paella burner in someone’s backyard for a casual dinner under the moonlight for an evening of Spanish paella, tapas and wine. Lately, I’ve been hosting Paella Parties around the Nashville area. I show up with all of the ingredients ready to create one of the most authentic and delectable paellas around. Paella equals “instant party.” A paella is a communal dish meant to be shared with friends, family and celebrations. I bring that to the party!
What is Paella?
Paella is the most popular and well known dish of Spain. It is a vibrant rice dish often cooked outdoors over an open flame. The passion and spirit of Spain are reflected in its food. My paellas ingredients include Gulf shrimp, mussels, Southern clams, fresh fish, chicken, locally-sourced smoked chorizo sausage and vegetables with a rich homemade broth bursting with rich, complex flavors There are so many different recipes for paellas that I can’t count. Although my Paella Mixta (a mix of seafood, chicken, sausage) is the most popular, I also “custom make” just seafood, meat or even vegetarian paellas. My paella can be created to suit everyone’s palate.
There is something so passionate about paella; at least it’s that way for me. I am from Louisiana and of Sicilian decent by the way of the North Delta of Louisiana and Mississippi. We are referred to as the Delta Italians. My culinary skills were directly influenced from New Orleans’ Cajun and Creole as well as the Sicilian Italian family I grew up in. I have always had the knack and passion for cooking and paella is just one of the ways I express it; Just wait until you experience it and you’ll see why I’m so passionate about the art of paella!
Paella and Jambalaya are cousins
That’s right! The Spanish explorers brought paella to Louisiana. Instead of the precious and pricey saffron, tomatoes add the color and crawfish and andouille make the signature Cajun jambalaya. The original paellas were cooked and eaten from the paella pan out of necessity in the rice fields of Spain by the peasant farm-workers. Paellas are made with seafood if near the coastal waters or rabbit and snails if inland. Bomba rice, the special paella rice of Spain, is grown only in Spain and is an essential part of what makes an authentic paella. Some paellas are not made with rice but with thin noodles. This is a Catalan Fideuà, made with fideo (Spanish noodles). At the most recent gathering, this is what I made. It was devoured by all! For a couple of years, I have hosted Paella Dinners at Natchez Hills Winery. What a beautiful location right outside of Nashville to enjoy the cool breeze, wines made at Natchez Hills Winery and Vineyard paired with a rich, vibrant paella. Salud Cooking School at Whole Foods in Green Hills has been another way I have been able to share my passion for paella. I teach classes on paella, tapas and cajun cuisine! As long as I have a cooking surface large enough to accommodate my pan, we are in business! Backyard Paella Parties with My Paella Travels have become very popular this summer. While I’m preparing the paella, guests enjoy the Spanish Tapas I’ve prepared, sip on wines that I have chosen and usually gather around the pan watching the performance. I have fun talking about the history of paella with guests and they always have great questions.
My Spanish Tapas is always a hit! Usually, I’ll have a variety of Spanish cheeses, Marcona almonds with my “special” seasonings and my own recipe of marinated olives. My grilled bread always seems to be a crowd pleaser as well as the Croquetas filled with warm and gooey Manchego cheese and Serrano ham with Smoked Paprika aioli. Smokey bacon wrapped around chorizo-filled dates baked with a Smokey Romesco sauce and tomatoes until it’s bubbly, is another one of my popular tapas recipes. And what about those Seared Lamb Chops with Curry Aioli? My absolute favorite dish!
My friends, David and Sarah know how to throw a party for Labor Day weekend! Paella is an instant party for a gathering of friends. While I made the paella, we all enjoyed the Sangria.
This vibrant and intensely flavored paella was the hit of the party! The shrimp were succulent and the chicken and sausage were the perfect additions to this amazing dish! And, everyone enjoyed every bite of the crispy, caramelized crust of rice called the socarrat.
Two sold-out Paella classes were the hit of the USN evening events! I was able to cook this one on the large indoor range for 25 hungry guest!
My paella will travel to you, too!
Save room for a bite (or two) of homemade Chocolate Treś Leches Cake! This creation is one of my favorite desserts ever, especially after a big plate of Paella!