I was taught the Valencian paella by Don Jesús Melero, the world´s foremost authority on Valencian paella. Through the "Paella for the World" foundation´s efforts to promote Spain´s national dish, I was chosen to attend a master class taught by Don Jesús Melero in October of 2015. Here I am thanking him for his expert tips after my 2nd place finish in Jersey City, New Jersey.
I entered my first Paella contest in the fall of 2014. I remember that cold day like it was yesterday, I was the only woman competing. I was nervous going against executive chefs and chefs de cuisine from various restaurants. But my Black Paella was a huge hit with the crowd and really blew away the judges too earning me third place. I was thrilled. it was totally unexpected. This is a picture of my winning Black Paella. Isn't it gorgeous?
A real paella Valenciana has land animals only, no seafood. It has rabbit, chicken, rosemary, Spanish saffron, two different types of beans and , if you dare, you add the snails. It is the original and, in my opinion, the best of all paellas. This is my winning 2015 paella Valenciana.
"We have had paella for my daughter's First Birthday and then for my son's Communion. Each party has been a success thanks to the paella. Everyone was talking about it for days! It was delicious and cooked perfectly. Elisa does a wonderful job and takes pride in her work. I'm excited for the next time we use her! I highly recoommend it!"
-The Samaniego Family
"We just had to let you know how pleased we were with the food for our daughter's first birthday party. Many of our guests said they had never tasted a paella with such flavor before, and we have to agree. Thank you for being so fun, warm and such a great chef. Our party was a hit!"
-The Ecker Family
"Chef Elisa Gonzalez makes the best paella I've ever tasted. I've been fortunate to experience her award-winning paella a few times at parties held at friends' homes. The part I love the most is the crusty, slightly burnt rice from the bottom of the pan. OMG - so crunchy and flavorful. Chef Gonzalez also puts on a show when she makes the paella. From the set up of the huge pan to all the steps that go into making the dish. It's an added bonus when she shares tips about paella making and paella contests. You can tell she's an expert and loves what she does. I highly recommend her delicious paella."
"There really aren't words to describe how delicious Chef Elisa's paellas are - and I've tried various kinds including Black and Valencia, that have stolen my heart. I can NOT eat paella in restaurants any longer. Having Chef Elisa create her paella for you and your guests is a warm, bonding entertainment experience. She lets guests participate and goes above and beyond to ensure everyone has a wonderful time."
-Linda Loughman Tanzer
How much does a paella cost?
A paella can be customized to suit your needs and your tastes so prices will vary according to the added ingredients. Prices start at 18 dollars per person for the chicken paella. Seafood paella varies depending on what seafood is used. Only authentic Bomba or Calasparra rice is ever used in every paella. And I only use the freshest top shelf ingredients in every step of the paella. I make each paella as if I was making it for my own family.
Do you make any accompanying dishes too?
Yes I can provide other side dishes, such as tortilla de patatas, setas al ajillo, patatas bravas and other tapas and salads.
How long does it take to make a paella? I make the broth and the sofrito the day before because these take a long time to prepare. The on site cooking takes up to two hours. The bigger the paella, the longer it takes for the broth to come up to boil. However I need about an hour to set up the equipment and to do the mise en place.
What training do you have?
I was raised in Spain in a family of gourmands with an obsession with good food. Aside from that I am mostly self taught. However I was lucky to be trained by D. Jesus Melero in the art of paella making and continue to take cooking, pastry and baking classes regularly at the Institute of Culinary Education in NYC with world renowned chefs like David Rosengarten, Anthony Ricco, and Nick Malgieri.