Chef Johnny Hernandez hosts Fifth Paella Challenge at the Pearl


Paella Challenge courtey photo True Flavors Catering (1)

 Chef Flor Vergara’s stunning rendition of paella won the 2013 Contemporary Paella Winner at the Paella Challenge. (Courtesy photo)

By Chris Covo and Delia Covo                                                                       

Paella, Spain’s iconic rice dish, combines vegetables and meats, seasoned with saffron. Considered the culinary union of Spain, Roman and Arab cultures, it may well have been the dish to introduce rice to the region.

The origins of the dish may have been humble as well: some think Moorish kings’ servants created rice dishes by mixing leftovers from royal banquets in large pots to take home. Even the name of the dish may have Moorish roots: it’s possible the word paella originates from the Arab word “baqiyah,” which means leftovers, although technically, paella refers to the pan the meal is cooked in. Over time, the size of the pan grew wider instead of deeper to allow more even heating and maximum evaporation.

In San Antonio, for the fifth March in a row, Chef Johnny Hernandez and the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber will host the Corona Paella Challenge. Culinary celebs from all across the country and Mexico will join fellow foodies for an afternoon of food, live entertainment, Spanish wines and sangria at the Pearl. Star chefs and high school teams will compete shoulder to shoulder as guests watch the challenge unfold. This year the event takes place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 9, at the Pearl.

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