VALENCIA – Erik Gil, France’s representative chef, won the title of the best paella in the world on Tuesday. The award was presented on the International Day of the Valencian Court, the third edition of the ‘World Paella Day’, which was celebrated in the port of Valencia. The French chef took on chefs from Argentina and Finland in the final with his duck confit and mushroom paella. A total of ten chefs from all over the world competed for the coveted title with different versions of the Spanish dish.
The day started at ten in the morning. Ecuador competed against Finland, France against Italy, Argentina against Mexico, Switzerland against Canada and Japan against the United Arab Emirates. The finals started at noon. France (Eric Gil), Finland (Jaani Pasikoski), Canada (Javier Blanc), Argentina (Juani Klitten) and the United Arab Emirates (Piedade Fernandes) competed in this competition.
In this third edition of World Paella Day nine new versions of the famous dish were prepared. Some of them were inspired by the chef’s country of origin. An example of this was Japan with lobster, green onion and nettles. The recipe from Finland was also special with reindeer, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes and blueberries.
The International Paella Day is an initiative of the Municipality of Valencia, made possible by Visit Valencia, Tourism Comunidad Valenciana, the deputation of Valencia and Turespaña. The initiative also had collaboration with several parties that do a lot for Paella’s fame.
This year the chefs were also invited to visit several important places for the Paella world. For example, we visited the Albufera Natural Park, where the famous rice varieties for paella are grown. In this way, the chefs learned the different varieties of the rice. They also visited the orchard and barn of Toni Motoliu, chef. Here, the chefs learned how to heat up the wood and got tips from various chefs who are well-known in the paella world.
This version of the festival was one to also look at different variations of the traditional paella. Valencia’s deputy mayor, Sandra Gómez, says that on September 20 ‘for one day, all Valencians accepted different recipes of the paella. Because it is important that we share this connecting factor for Valencia and the rest of the world, our most international right. A dish is much more than a recipe, it is a ritual, a way of sharing with family and friends. There are few dishes that are so well-known and so loved.’ She also emphasizes that the paella ‘gives us the opportunity to showcase our food, give value to our rice and the large amount of products in the city of Valencia, take advantage of the agricultural land and the Mediterranean. The way of feeding has also earned us the title ‘Capital of sustainable food’.’
The councilor for tourism and internationalization, Emiliano García, calls September 20 “a day when Valencians feel proud of their most traditional gastronomy.” “Paella is the most Valencian way to get close and share. And with this initiative we want to show it to the world. We want everyone to feel friendship, family, togetherness when they eat a paella and that above all the good rice from Valencia is shared.’ According to Emiliano Garcia.
The jury for this international paella competition consisted of the president of the Academia de Gastronomía de la Comunidad Valenciana (Gastronomic Academy of the Comunidad Valenciana): Belén Arias, 2nd prize winner of the International Valencian Paella Competition from Sweden: Binhui Jiang, chef Chef and winner of the II World Paella Day Cup: Noelia Pascual, owner of restaurant Berlanga: José Luis García Berlanga, and designer of the Delicious Valencia brand: Modesto Granados.