A Taste of Valencia, Spain Comes to the Emerald Coast at Real Paella
Just like many argue about what ingredients constitute the best Cajun versus Creole Gumbo, paella aficionados in the know are often in dispute about what to use in Spain’s most authentic dish, as the ways of making paella are as many and varied as the people who cook it.
My money is on Juan Ten, the man with the pan, who was born in his parents (Salvador and Lola’s) native Valencia, raised in Madrid, has a thriving Real Paella business in Tallahassee, and is now residing part time in South Walton to bring his family recipes, passed down from generations before him, to the Emerald Coast.
As a growing boy, Juan paid close attention to his mother, Lola, as she cooked authentic paella with fresh local ingredients for family and friends gathered around their giant pan. Ten said, “I learned how to make paella when I was a teenager. My grandfather Salvador Ten Montoliu (1897-1974), was a chef and the inventor of the first gas furnace retrofitted to cook paellas (paellero de gas), a patent registered in 1950.”
Tallahassee's Real Paella Offers Authentic Spanish Cuisine
Restaurant Reviews, Recipes and Ramblings from Debi Lander
Spanish paella is a traditional dish made from a mixture of seafood and saffron infused rice, cooked in a flat, round pan. Living in St. Augustine, Florida's Spanish founded in 1565, I am lucky to find it locally. But, when I visited the state capitol of Tallahassee, I discovered paella to beat all others. My meal from Real Paella was served on the grounds of the historic Spanish Mission San Luis.
Growing up in Valencia, Spain, Juan Ten ate paella twice a week. He still makes the Spanish rice dish today — just a bit more expansively.
He now operates Real Paella Catering, a Tallahassee-based catering service that serves fresh, authentic paella. They can bring the completed paella or cook the dish onsite at gatherings to serve up to 1,000 people.
“It’s just fun for parties,” Ten said.
He’s been cooking paella for parties and weddings in Northwest Florida for about eight years now. He went from cooking paella for a party once in a while to having regular business that serves Tallahassee, Apalachicola, 30A in South Walton and Destin.
Ten didn’t think the business would take off at first — he didn’t think many people in Northwest Florida knew about or were interested in paella.
The dish hails from Valencia, Spain. The main ingredients are Valencia rice, olive oil and saffron, but different ingredients accommodate different tastes.
Man with a pan wows with Real Paella at the Growers' Market.
by Kati Schardl
ASSISTANT FEATURES EDITOR
The ways of making paella are as many and varied as the people who cook it.
Beyond that, one could say that arguments — along with the intangible elements of pasion y espiritu — are essential ingredients of an authentic paella.
A Taste Of Spain—Authentic Paella
By Sandy Beck
In Spain (like almost anywhere) the best eating happens in the kitchen where family recipes are casually passed along by word of mouth to the next generation.
Juan Ten was born in Valencia, Spain. As a child, Juan paid close attention as his mother, Lola, cooked authentic paella, the signature dish of Spain that brings families and friends together around a giant pan. In fact, Juan’s Valencian roots are several generations deep, so this dish is in his blood.