My friend, Kurt Grasings, has mastered the art of Paella for large crowds. Kurt is the Chef/Owner of Grasing's in Carmel, California. His six foot paella pan serves some 200 diners. This version is populated by an ocean of shellfish including crab claws, mussels, clams, oysters along with chicken, chorizo, peppers, peas, tomatoes and a rich saffron broth. Purists, and you know who you are, would bristle at the use of rice pasta instead of a good Spanish rice. The rice pasta has the advantage over rice in holding well on a buffet but would probably insult any Spaniard who loves his paella.
Wikipedia has the history of the dish on its web site.
"Paella (Valencian and Spanish: [paˈeʎa], English approximation ['paɪ.jɛjɐ] or ['paɪ.jɛlɐ]) is a Valencian rice dish that originated in its modern form in the mid-19th century near lake Albufera, a lagoon in Valencia, on the east coast of Spain. Many non-Spaniards view paella as Spain's national dish, but most Spaniards consider it to be a regional Valencian dish. Valencians, in turn, regard paella as one of their identifying symbols.
There are three widely known types of paella: Valencian paella (Spanish: paella valenciana), seafood paella (Spanish: paella de marisco) and mixed paella (Spanish: paella mixta), but there are many others as well. Valencian paella consists of white rice, green vegetables, meat (rabbit, chicken, duck), land snails, beans and seasoning. Seafood paella replaces meat and snails with seafood and omits beans and green vegetables. Mixed paella is a free-style combination of meat, seafood, vegetables, and sometimes beans. Most paella chefs use calasparra or bomba rices for this dish. Other key ingredients include saffron and olive oil."
I am catering an event next month for some 300 folks at the Santa Barbara Sunken Garden. Budget and diet issues led me to create a chicken version with more or less the same vegetable, saffron embellishments. I will use rice just in case my culinary guardian angel takes notice!
Chef Michael Hutchings