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Archive | March 9th, 2014

The Weather’s No Challenge for This Year’s Paella Challenge

The Weather’s No Challenge for This Year’s Paella Challenge

Don Pullum, recently seen on "The Taste," and his assistant assemble their paella.

Don Pullum, recently seen on “The Taste,” and his assistant assemble their paella.

A last blast of winter didn’t stop hundreds of hungry people from turning out Sunday to the fifth annual Paella Challenge at the Pearl Brewery Sunday. But the gray skies and perpetual threat of rain did force the chefs and the sellout crowd under the 281 overpass for some protection.

Jesse Perez of Arcade Midtown Kitchen is the people's choice winner.

Jesse Perez of Arcade Midtown Kitchen is the people’s choice winner.

The new location  may have put a crimp into the parking, but people really enjoyed the more intimate space in which chefs from cross the city and across the country competed against each other to create the best and the most unique variations on paella, the classic Spanish dish that generally starts with some olive oil and garlic and finishes with a hefty dose of culinary magic. And on a cold, damp Sunday afternoon, what could be more welcome than a plate of steaming hot food laden with everything from scallops to roasted pig to clams and mussels?

David Gilbert of Tuk Tuk Taproom

David Gilbert of Tuk Tuk Taproom

Quite a few people stopped by Don Pullum’s table to talk with the man who recently finished a season on ABC’s “The Taste.” His final dish on that cooking show had been paella — and he didn’t survive the round intact — so the Mason chef and winemaker was looking for a chance to redeem himself. People loved his combination of lobster, crawfish, shrimp, and more over rice seasoned with plenty of saffron and other seasonings, as they did creations from a host of chefs, including Susanna Trilling, Robbie Nowlin, Stefan Bowers, Angie Bridges, Zach Lutton, Steven McHugh and Jason Dady. Chef James Canter of Victoria County Club, who has taken top prize several years in a row, became a judge this year, but he also managed to have a booth out of the competition.

The end result was a tasty way of raising money for scholarships, which will go to local culinary students, organizer Johnny Hernandez reminded the crowd before handing out the awards to the following winners:

Cesar Cervantes of El Bucanero joined Jeff Balfour to create a winning paella.

Cesar Cervantes of El Bucanero joined Jeff Balfour to create a winning paella.

High school:

  1. Robert E. Lee
  2. Brennan
  3. Sam Houston

Classic:

  1. Tim Rattray, the Granary
  2. Michael Sohoki, Restaurant Gwendolyn
  3. Michael Skibitcky, H-E-B

Non-traditional:

  1. The winning team from Robert E. Lee High School.

    The winning team from Robert E. Lee High School.

    David Gilbert, Tuk Tuk Taproom

  2. Jeff Balfour, an upcoming Pearl restaurant, and Cesar Cervantes of El Bucanero
  3. Jordan Mackey, Las Ramblas, Hotel Contessa

People’s choice:

  1. Jesse Perez, Arcade Midtown Kitchen

By winning their division, the students from Robert E. Lee High School will be traveling to New York City and on to the Culinary Institute of America main campus at Hyde Park, N.C.

Susana Trilling makes paella with her team.

Susana Trilling makes paella with her team.

Paella from Stefan Bowers of Feast.

Paella from Stefan Bowers of Feast.

Members of the Memorial High School team prepare their paella.

Members of the Memorial High School team prepare their paella.

Paella from Tim McCarty of Rochester, Minn.

Paella from Tim McCarty of Rochester, Minn.

The folks from Acadiana Cafe stage crawfish races.

The folks from Acadiana Cafe stage crawfish races.

Paella from chef David Delgado of the San Antonio Food Bank.

Paella from chef David Delgado of the San Antonio Food Bank.

 

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Bernard’s Takes a Taste of New Orleans into the Express Lane

Bernard’s Takes a Taste of New Orleans into the Express Lane

Bernard’s Creole Kitchen is expanding, which is great news for anyone in San Antonio who loves a taste of New Orleans.

bernardsThe restaurant, based at Stinson Airport, now has an express kitchen in Pica Pica Plaza, 910 S.E. Military Drive.

“My goal is to somewhat turn Bernard’s into a chain of locations without losing the flavor of New Orleans,” owner Bernard McGraw says. “We’ve noticed for years now that more than 50 percent of our customers come from other parts of San Antonio. A huge chunk of them come in from the north side side of town. I would like to one have a location or two over in that area, offering our greatest hits, so to speak, meaning all our favorites that have stood the test of time” Ain’t Ya Momma’s Meatloaf, catfish, Big Momma’s Deep Fried Pork Chops, Gumbo, A-2 fay, Cajun stuffed chicken breast, etc. Oh and red beans and rice.”

McGraw says he hopes to be “cooking from one location and shipping food to other locations, ensuring that all the restaurants will be enjoying the same great food.”

“Compared to the menu at Stinson, we would like to cut back on the lengthy menu and offer only the classics,” he says, adding there will be “a short list of our famous po’boys and signature chicken and waffles.”

“The problem is we have so many great items. This will be a challenge. That’s why we are using Pica Pica Plaza as a tester. We have our work cut out for us, but I’m excited about it.”

McGraw moved to San Antonio in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. He brought his family here and opened Bernard’s Creole Kitchen & Catering, which has had several locations on the south side before moving to Stinson Airfield. No matter the location, McGraw’s food is well worth seeking out. For more information, call 210-921-1112.

Posted in RestaurantsComments Off


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