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Are You Ready for Paella? The Annual Challenge Returns March 11

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Jeff Balfour's winning paella from 2011.

Have you ever wanted to taste the cooking of a few of the contestants on “Top Chef”? You’ll get your chance at the third annual Corona Paella Challenge on March 11.

Lindsay Autrey, who made it to the top three this season, will be at the Pearl Brewery, 200 E. Grayson St., for the event, along with Ty-Lor Boring and Keith Rhodes, both of whom were also involved in the season that was partially filmed in San Antonio.

Chef Jeff Balfour of Citrus in the Hotel Valencia, 150 E. Houston St., will be defending his title as champion of the event.

Other chefs making paella for the crowds to sample include Jeff Littlefield of Waterfront Resort, Tim McCarthy of the Mayo Foundation, Jhojans Priego of Villa Rica, cookbook author and Seasons of My Heart Cooking School chef instructor Susana Trilling, Jason Dady of Bin 555 and Tre Trattoria, Steven McHugh of Lüke, who placed second last year, and Jeffrey Axell and David Wirebaugh, both of the Hyatt hotels.

Enormous paella pans cook enough of this Spanish rice dish for 50 people at a time.

The event is hosted by chef Johnny Hernandez of La Gloria at the Pearl, and proceeds will benefit The Culinary Institute of America­, San Antonio, and the Educational Foundation of the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

“Our goal is to raise awareness about the world-renowned culinary campus we have here in San Antonio: The Culinary Institute of America,” Hernandez said. “We are committed to increasing the opportunities for scholarships and funding for young chefs interested in a career in the food industry.”

In addition to an array of outrageous and outrageously good paellas, there will be wines from Spain and a line of craft and imported beers.

San Antonio band Bachaco will perform its blend of reggae, dancehall, and ska mixed with South America’s own Caribbean legacy rhythm of Cumbia.

The event runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets cost $50 for adults or $25 for children under age 12. Tickets can be purchased at www.culinariasa.org/wine-festival/main/tickets.php and at Pearl during the event.

 

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