Pamplona's prize-winning paella

by Mary Tutwiler

We always knew that the paella at Pamplona was the best in Lafayette.

But the local tapas restaurant has just taken on the big boys in New Orleans and beaten them at their own paella game, bringing home a first place award for our Cajun-grown cooks.  

The cooking contest was held as part of New Orleans' San Fermin in Nueva Orleans Festival, which coincides with the original San Fermin (running of the bulls) in Pamplona, Spain.

Pamplona's new executive chef, Craig Crosby, who worked under former executive chef Orlando Amaro, transported all the raw ingredients to the Big Easy and cooked them in the restaurant's signature giant paella pans. Crosby beat out entries from Barcelona Tapas Cafe, Three Muses, Rambla, and Vega Tapas Cafe to take home the trophy.

"I used Orlando's authentic Valenciana recipe," says Crosby, who combined shrimp, squid, mussels, clams, chicken and chorizo in the saffron yellow rice. Last night the restaurant celebrated to a packed house with a vat of paella and their signature white sangria. Ole!