(CNN Spanish) – Two chefs from Zacatecas, Mexico, won an award this week The best paella in the worldin a competition that brought together dozens of chefs from 12 countries in Valencia, Spain.
Rogelio Castañone and Alfonso Oval, of Crocus Gastronomic Services, of Guadalupe, Zacatecas, traveled to Valencia, Spain, to represent Mexico in this international competition. There they won the World’s Best Paella Award in Valencia International Paella Competition in SuicaIt is celebrated every year since 1961. The winners received a prize of 2,500 euros.
“It’s a very fulfilling dream,” Rogelio Castañone told CNN from Valencia the day after his victory.
“What happened yesterday, the fact that we didn’t even believe it. It’s too complicated to explain. Paella brought us so much satisfaction and that’s why we’ve worked with her since we were students, he started getting acquainted with Paella, that’s why we started to be interested”, says Castañón, satisfied with his victory.
In second place, he stayed in Valencia, at the local restaurant Mesón El Molino, while German Bornheimer Ratskeller from Frankfurt came in third.
The road to the best paella in the world
Castañón and Ovalle have been together for several years. They learned to prepare paella about 12 years ago in university, but this recipe, the one in the competition, only knew about four and a half years ago, when they first took part in the The semi-finals will be held in Queretaro To participate in this competition. They’ve perfected the preparation ever since.
“It’s a constant practice of perfecting and tweaking. Taking advice from people who, regularly from the Hispanic community in Mexico, who know Valencian paella, who have tried it, and they tell us ‘the rice is over, take it off, add it’, add it’s a process,” Rogelio Castañón told CNN from Valencia. process, process.”
Although they can now be said to be experts in paella, the achievement of Mexicans is also that it is not a very common dish in Mexico. Ingredients are not always available in local markets in Zacatecas, and for this contest they both traveled to Ticapan, Mazatlan, in Sinaloa, to cook with characteristics similar to those of Suica.
“Here in Sueca, we are at sea level, and where we live, back in Mexico, is about 1,600 meters above sea level. So for the practices we had before the competition, we moved to a place on the coast to accommodate the conditions under which we will be participating here” .
Mexicans say they don’t have a “secret touch” to being chosen as the best paella dish in a competition in which more than 40 chefs, mostly from Valencia, participated.
“I think it’s more than just a secret touch, it’s the passion we put into cooking it and the trust we have as partners. It’s A unique recipe for everyoneBut the practice we put into it was the difference it made on this occasion and more than a secret it was cooking with love.”
All pans of paella have the same recipe and all chefs have the same ingredients: beef, rabbit, chicken, beans and rice, which is the protagonist, because in this competition only the product produced in Sueca is used. In addition, the paella is cooked in wood, which makes it even more difficult.
The chef added, “It’s always hard trying to get a good paella with wood because it’s the easiest thing in the world because you don’t control it so easily.”
This practice, which began as a business opportunity, because according to Castañones, “very few people specifically make Valencian paella” in Zacatecas, has given these two chefs great satisfaction, an international brand they now enjoy, which is to spread the Valencian paella and try to improve its technique, And of course keep making the paella.
“We did things really well. Well, what a dad who made the best paella in the world in Mexico and all our efforts, sacrifices, dedication, perseverance…it finally paid off. It’s very satisfying,” the chef said.
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