A little bit of history
After catching a glimpse of an outdoor paella contest in Spain (on the travel channel, sadly, not in Spain) where hundreds of people gathered over open fires to make the dish, founding PLU member Kelty Christman was instantly inspired to replicate the experience in Austin, Texas. 2003 marked the first year of this beloved event with 8 teams competing. The contest took place for two more years in Kelty’s back yard before she took a year off to attend graduate school. That year, 2006, several of Kelty’s friends, Alysha Cable, who was instrumental in pulling off the previous years events, Vincent Parrello (Vincenzo), fierce competitor three years running, and Glen Glover, realized that the contest HAD to go on, and the three paella aficionados pulled off a wildly successful event in Glen’s back yard. In 2007, Kelty, Alysha, Vince, and Glen all joined forces and have been committed to putting on the absolute best event possible, year after year.
Today we have expanded past 850 people with up to 30 competing teams and a dozen more just for fun. Most of our teams a quite serious about their craft and what makes it interesting is that there are as many different recipes for making paella as there are people who make it. Some outsiders (ok, us too) joke that paella is really just “glorified rice” or “Spanish Jambalaya”, and while we realize our fascination with paella may come across as obsession or a lot of fuss over a little bit of rice, we are hooked. We are certain after trying some of the winning entries you will be, too.
But, what it’s really all about (and if you’ve ever been to one of our events, you get it) is experiencing another culture when it’s not always feasible to hop on a plane, or celebrating your culture’s traditions when you can’t return to your home country, and celebrating life, good food, good wine, and yes, most important, good friends.