Paella is the most vibrant and spectacular rice dish from Spain and Chef Michael Symon will show us how it’s done right!
2014 Music City Food + Wine Festival in Nashville, Tennessee at the Red Bud Tent 1:15 to 2pm Public Square Park & Walk of Fame Park in Nashville, Tennessee
My Interview with Chef Michael Symon, the Award-winning chef, restaurateur, and television personality
When I discovered that Chef Michael Symon was attending the second annual 2014 Food + Wine Festival AND whipping up my favorite dish ever, I wanted to know more!
There are many food festivals across the country every year. Yet, after appearing last year at the inaugural event, he said (to Caleb Followill guitarist of Kings of Leon and Chef Jonathan Waxman) to “count him in” for next year! Chef Michael Symon is a huge fan of Nashville. He immediately embraced the Nashville vibe, the combination of food and music and said that Nashvillians are very friendly and welcoming.
Well, next year is here and I couldn’t wait to talk to Chef Symon about his passion for paella and how his love for Nashville drew him back this year (even on his birthday weekend!)
Chef Michael said he just loves to demo paella! And, just by learning a few proper techniques, you can feed a few or a crowd! This communal dish can feed a huge crowd 2 to 20 and beyond.
Is Paella a trend?
Chef Michael said: Paella is a classic regional dish of Spain. Although this ever-popular dish might be trending right now, its probably because restaurants are beginning to make it correctly. Chefs are using authentic techniques and incorporating the essential ingredients such as Bomba rice (the quintessential Paella rice) and properly forming a soccarrat. This is the prized crusty, caramelized rice at the bottom and edges of the paella pan.
Paella represents the Mediterranean lifestyle of locally sourced produce, community and sharing with each other the love of life and food.
Paella can be traced back even before the 18th century in Valencia, Spain. This colorful and traditional dish was once cooked out of necessity and eaten directly out of the pan with wooden spoons by peasants who worked in the rice fields near the Mediterranean Sea. Although paella has transcended time with more elegant paellas loaded with chorizo, chicken and seafood, it has remained a present day popular dish. Paella is a classic dish, a family affair and still a communal dish. It’s a great excuse for a party or celebration of any kind, even tailgating!
Creating an Authentic Paella: It’s all about technique
As Chef Michael discussed: To make an authentic paella, you have to learn and use the correct technique for forming a good soccarat which is essential to a quality paella. Once you learn this basic technique, you are on your way!
*It is important to use seasonal and local ingredients, where ever you are. You will then embrace the essence of this regional dish. He also makes his own Spanish chorizo and will be bringing it to use in September!
*You don’t necessarily need a paella pan to make a great paella –just some type of pan big enough to accommodate the crowd you are feeding! And, he cooks his paella on his grill!
*Chef Michael’s heritage is Greek, Sicilian and Eastern European. As a fellow Sicilian, I liked his comparison of the paella to your Italian grandmother’s pasta sauce (gravy). Each family has their own cherished recipe that is passed down through the ages and will often vary in ingredients, yet each are equally as authentic as the next!
Tailgating: What better way to feed a crowd?
Chef Michael looks forward to tailgating season and cooking paella for his crowd of of friends in his hometown of Cleveland. He can’t wait to go to his favorite market to load up the paella with locally made kielbasa. West Side Market is a locally owned, historical market with 100 vendors of great ethnic diversity.
Best memory of paella in Spain…It’s not just about the dish
After 8 long hours of traveling to Spain, the owners of the villa where he was staying made a traditional paella to share with the tired and jet-lagged travelers. He has great memories of relaxing after a long trip in a beautiful country and enjoying the paella feast and conversation with family and friends!
What paella is Chef Symon preparing for the demo at the Music City Food + Wine Festival?
You’ll have to wait for that but-as we discussed our favorite essential ingredients and how important it is to use local ingredients and then I made a suggestion. I will leave this as a surprise!
Music City Food + Wine Festival ticket options include a Saturday Day Pass, Sunday Day Pass, Harvest Night Pass or All-In Pass; all attendees must be 21 years of age or older.
The Saturday Day Pass ($150 per person) includes single-day access to festival programming Saturday, September 20, at Public Square Park, including cooking demonstrations, wine, beer & spirits tastings, intimate panel discussions, book signings and Saturday’s Grand Taste tents.
The Sunday Day Pass ($150 per person) includes single-day access to festival programming Sunday, September 21, at Public Square Park, including cooking demonstrations, wine, beer & spirits tastings, intimate panel discussions, book signings and Sunday’s Grand Taste tents.
Harvest Night ($225 per person) passes are available for the first time as a stand-alone ticket option. Hosted at the Walk of Fame Park in downtown Nashville, Saturday’s Harvest Night will offer guests the opportunity to sample signature dishes from over 15 of the nation’s most decorated chefs, paired with live music and curated by Kings of Leon.
The All-In Pass ($500 per person) enables guests to experience the full weekend of Music City Food + Wine Festival, including access to cooking demonstrations, wine, beer & spirits tastings, intimate panel discussions, Saturday & Sunday’s Grand Taste tents, Saturday’s Harvest Night (held at Walk of Fame Park), and a one-year FOOD & WINE Magazine Subscription (US Only).
See you there! Cheers!