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Celebrity Chefs Destroy Paella
24 March 2016 @ 14:25

A while back I wrote an article on how traditional Spanish food was being converted into culinary atrocities for the British palate by restaurants, market stalls and fresh food supermarkets, something that I have never understood. Millions of Brits travel to Spain every year and enjoy the local cuisine. Whatever makes one think that they can improve on a recipe that has been tried and tested over centuries. I am all for creating new recipes but don’t give it a traditional name like Paella and make people think they are eating Spanish food.

Anyway, It was only recently that I came across one of the most disappointing cooking videos I think I have ever seen, well that’s not entirely true, because I saw another one shortly after and that was just as bad and embarrassing. I am referring to a video recipe by Gordon Ramsey, who needs no presentation (believe it or not I am a fan, hence the disappointment), and another one by John Torode, who is a celebrity chef  restaurateur and host of UK Master Chef.

Both, highly acclaimed chefs decided to ‘teach’ us how to make Paella. Now I am not sure I have ever seen a recipe so far from the original or cooking techniques that can only destroy the end result. As far as Spanish ‘culinary religion’ is concerned this was outright blasphemy and a one way ticket to hell.

We all play around with international recipes at home and do horrible things to wonderful dishes, mainly because we don’t have the time or all the necessary ingredients at hand to reproduce the authentic dish, and that’s fine, be creative and enjoy yourself in the kitchen. That’s what cooking is all about; enjoying food.

But when a chef with 14 Michelin stars, numerous TV programmes and influences millions of homes worldwide decides to teach an Englishwomen how to make Paella, one would be led to believe that he knows what he’s doing. That is certainly what he appears to believe in his video.

Well, as a Brit living in Valencia: the home of the Paella, I can assure you it made me cringe! It was truly a Kitchen Nightmare! His choice of ingredients showed no respect for the dish at all and totally undermined his knowledge of ingredients and flavours. I wrote about it before and I’ll repeat it again, what is it with chorizo?!! Why does everyone put chorizo into everything?! What is wrong with you Gordon? Since when can you mix chorizo with shrimps … chicken with squid…and then ‘jazz it all up’ with chilli and sherry in a wok with wet rice and call it paella? Are you serious? ...Obviously you are, otherwise you wouldn’t have posted such a video.

But I can’t for one minute believe that a professional chef like Gordon Ramsey  doesn’t know the authentic recipe, so how can you have the audacity to call it Paella? Call it ‘Mediterranean Rice’ or ‘Rice with Stuff-in-it’ I don’t care, but don’t call it Paella - PLEASE!

Gordon Ramsey, please let me humbly give you one piece of advice when it comes to cooking rice for paella…if you need a ladle to serve it you know straight away that you have seriously cocked it up.

There are many professionals that are fighting on a daily basis to preserve and maintain the traditional recipe and promote Spanish cuisine to the rest of the world and then ‘celebrity chefs’ like Ramsey and Torode completely destroy it. Here is the video of Ramsey’s paella and a link to my article on Paella and how to make the real deal , as I was fed up of people mutilating the authentic recipe. Please decide for yourself...



Now if that wasn’t enough, John Torode figures he can completely re-invent the wheel when it comes to cooking paella by cooking the rice in one pan and the seafood in another! Incredible, I have never seen anything like that before. Obviously the seafood magically flavours the rice when they are mixed on the plate and wins the battle against the overpowering turmeric (which is about as Spanish as a poppadum). Must learn that trick!

Torode, the Master Chef host in his video wants to explain the secret to ‘great rice’. Are you kidding me?

But in all fairness, Torode should be credited for using more or less the right ingredients for seafood paella, except for; the turmeric, the cod, the black pepper, the broad beans and the runner beans… But the funniest thing is that he prepares all the ingredients separately in different pans and then unites them victoriously in a proper paella pan for serving. Why don’t you just prepare it all together in one paella pan.....? You clearly have one. 

“This my friends is what you call Paella” were the words that just rang in my head after watching the video.

This is what people, who have no idea, will naively think is how paella is made and what it should be. After all who wouldn’t trust the host of Master Chef. If you would like to taste wet mushy curried rice with a topping of seafood and fish, I suggest you watch the following video. But please don’t call it Paella...



There are many more videos out there by Celebrity chefs making Gazpazcho, Spanish Omelette and what have you, which are all sacrilege. So I will make a plead to all celebrity chefs attempting to teach the world Spanish recipes. Please teach the world the real recipes or at least say that this is ‘your take’ on a Spanish recipe so not to mislead the world and discredit Spanish culinary traditions. If you really think you know how to make real Paella I challenge you to come to Valencia and be put to the test by the locals, and if you don't know, I challenge you to come and be taught by the Pros and then share with the world this wonderful dish....properly.


Like 3


Manxmonkey said:
26 March 2016 @ 05:44

Whoa Ian, please don't say "for the British palate". That's not true. They create these, "Signature versions of classic dishes" to satisfy their overblown egos. And another thing, you can call a donkey a horse but it's still a donkey and a Paella is a Paella is a Paella. Basically there are regional versions and Halal versions but they are reliant on traditional ingredients and methods...and rice from your neck of the woods is a great start! Love your articles keep them coming.

Brian said:
26 March 2016 @ 08:36

I am a British ex pat living in Western Valencia. I have been
told by Spanish cooks/chefs that there are as many Paella recipes in Spain as as there are Spanish. I agree that these two egotistical brits have cocked up big time and they make some fundamental blunders.
I think the biggest problem is they call it Spanish food which it clearly is NOT. I too love to cook what I call Paella but only after reading very many SPANISH recipes starting with Valencia the origen of the dish.

grapow said:
26 March 2016 @ 09:20

Excellent article and one which I support fully. However this brings me on to a much bigger issue linked to us Brits and food. Why oh why, do Brits still eat in versions of "Little Britain", in restaurants where you only ever hear English spoken. We are quite lucky to be living in Dénia where, fortunately, there are a relatively small number of restaurants of this type but they do exist. On numerous occasions we have heard the same brits making sweeping anti-Spanish comments when describing local restaurants. We actively select restaurants used by locals and absolutely love the food and everything connected to it. It is not by accident that Spain has more restaurants in the Worlds top 50 than UK, France and even USA, why Brits dont fully embrace the wonderful Spanish dining experience, I knkw not.

eos_ian said:
26 March 2016 @ 11:36

Hi all thanks for commenting. My remark on the British palate was simply an observation as I see supermarkets and restaurants doing the same, so I assume THEY all believe the 'British palate' deserves something more 'flavoursome'...whihc is totally false. I don't think Paella is a 'donkey' dish as such, Spanish food can be very rustic and simple but Paella can be extremely complex and a lot of work depending on which type you are preparing and requires a lot of experience. Nowadays most ingredients are available and certianly to Michelin star chefs....anyway I will celebrate the day that a celebrity chef shows the world how to make an authentic paella. It may be a local dish but it has become the culinary emblem of Spain. Thanks for reading.

Linda p Harle said:
26 March 2016 @ 11:45

I love this article as it's very true, I live in the UK now after living in Spain for many years 'and am hoping to go back soon' I learnt by living the Spanish way to cook many Spanish recipies and when watching these outrages programmes of chefs trying to impress the British public I many times end up shouting at the screen what are you talking about you haven't got a clue!! I make a very good paella and I have no doubt that somebody would find something wrong with it But I don't make it up as I go along like putting chorizo you can but don't call it paella

MªJesús said:
28 March 2016 @ 19:56

I am agree with Ian, because La Paella can be a dish complex , and requeries a lot of experience. No all people to know cooking this dish as wonderful in Spain and native of Valencia.

eos_ian said:
28 March 2016 @ 19:59

Thank you Maria Jesus for reading, commenting and agreeing with me!

nicechap said:
31 March 2016 @ 23:05

Im no chef but I know you dont cook this in a different pans you cook it in a Paella pan

crostrad said:
14 May 2016 @ 15:10

This was a new take on paella that we saw in a Barcelona eatery when we were there at the end of April this year. It was on the English page of the menu - so that could be the reason ! It listed ingredients as
".......chorizo, clams, chicken, norwegian lobster and a pork chop"
I was going to take a picture of the menu to send to you but my partner threatened to walk out because she reckoned I'd look like " one of those sad ba*****s who take pictures of their lunch instead of eating it"
So sorry - no picture.

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