Held in September each year in the Valencian village of  Sueca, the spiritual home of the paella, the Concurso Internacional de Paella Valenciana is THE international paella event of the year!

The village of Sueca, Valencia, hosts the international competition to declare the best paella chef of the year. Thirty professionals from accredited restaurants are selected to cook out of the hundreds who apply. 

The mayor of Sueca, Salvador Campillo, highlighted the importance of the culinary competition, which is 

"the oldest of those held in Spain" and "the most important because for any restaurant that participates, it is a great honour to hang on your walls an accreditation that you have cooked the best paella in the world."
 

What is the International Valencian Paella Competition?

Then suddenly it was all over, the paellas were carried to the Sala Cancela for judging. After leaving our paella we went to the dining room for a cold beer and anticipated the formal lunch and subsequent prize giving.

The top eight winners for 2013:   

1st: Posada Real de Santa Maria del Campo Rus, Cuenca, Spain.

2nd: Casa Picanterra, Cullera, Valencia.

3rd: Chambao, Miami, USA.

4th: Casa Paella, NZ.

5th: Jordi Freecook, Valencia.

6th: Picasso, Hamburg.

7th: El Redoli, El Palmar, Valencia.

8th: Vale Paella, Tokyo Japan.

Edrick Corban-Banks Director and Chef Casa Paella 

Paella Ambassador of Sueca in the Pacific

4th leading Paella Chef Internationally 2013 and 2015

International Judge 2016

The competition has a very strict set of rules, requiring chefs to cook a paella for fifteen, over orange wood, with ingredients provided by the organising committee.   

These are:

Rice from Sueca, 2 free range chicken, 2 rabbits, snails, garrofón, tavella and ferradura ( the three beans) olive oil, garlic, tomato, pimentón, saffron,salt and a sprig of rosemary.

The day started around 9.30am when we set up our 'kitchen', got the orange wood ready and began the food preparation. With a San Miguel in hand, almuerzo was then eaten before the cooking started around 11.45am with the paellas being submitted to the judges at 2pm.

As the cooking progressed  my heart sank as I saw that the depth of rice, distribution of ingredients and the colour was just about indistinguishable such was the quality and standard, especially noticeable as the paellas were walked to the judges table.

The judges are expert and look in the paella for the symmetry, colour, taste, the degree of cooking of the rice and the `socarrat´ (the caramelised bit on the bottom which is most sought after) .

Gradually we reached the stage where the rice was added, the air now white with smoke, the San Miguel flowed faster.

2013 Reflection

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