We have reflected before on the growing number of Gastronomy Competitions in the Valencian Community being introduced as a means of publicising both local traditional dishes and maximising tourism from it, something supported by the Valencian Government and local town halls….and popular with tourists, 73% of whom come to Valencia for the local food and wine.
We have already reported on two `Concursos´held earlier this year which were in their second editions, in Cullera and Betera. During September there are two more, one new and one well established and the beginning of October sees another new one.
In this article VÍ Vid previews each of them, all open to the public to view.
The first is the Concurso Internacional de Paella Valenciana de Sueca which will be held on the 10th of September. This is a truly International affair with competitors from Costa Rica, Australia and New Zealand, the USA, Japan, Korea, Argentina and of course Spain. Semi finals have been held in each country and the finalists are now known. It chooses each year the best paella and is very prestigious.
Despite the huge interest in the UK it has still not proved possible to arrange a semi-final there yet, the main reasons ( which are interlinked) being costs and location. However there have been competitors from England before and the organisers have it in their power to invite competitors…although it is safe to say that it will not include Jamie Oliver or Gordon Ramsey!
This years concurso moves into the digital age with three finalists to be decided amongst the professional chefs from Facebook Group `Paellas y Arroces´. This is a lively forum and the rules for applying are available in a post on that page. VÍ Vid often join in the discussions and post pictures of our own paellas.
The competition is open to the public and cooking commences around 12.00 in the park directly in front of Sueca station.
The next event will be held on 18 September in Saló la Font, near the beach in Tavernes de la Valldigna.
This is the first of two new concursos this autumn. The subject of the competition is Arros de la Valldigna, a traditional paella cooked most weekends by local families in the four neighbouring towns of Simat, Benefaió, Tavernes de la Valldigna and Xeraco.
This is the Northern end of the La Safor district where the local version of Valencian paella has additional permitted ingredients, pork rib, red pepper and little pork meatballs (pelotas de putxero) as we recently reported in our review of Kiko Port restaurant in Oliva.
Here in the Valldigna, 30 Km North of Oliva the recipe varies in that the meatballs contain rabbit blood, proof it was needed of the variation of Valencian gastronomy we have often referred to!
Some 20 professionals will compete in this first event and the judges will be drawn from the press, gastronomy critics and professional chefs.
The third competition will be held in Oliva on the 4th October where once again professionals from the sector and students from the local catering schools (CdT´s) will cook Cocas de Oliva.
The competition is organised by the Associaó de Amics-Gastronòmicos Les Coques de Oliva.
Normally in Concursos the competitors are required to cook with a set list of ingredients. However this event will be freestyle, competitors have to elaborate a coca, savoury or sweet, and submit photographs of the process to the judging panel. Then, the selected best ten will be invited to cook on the day of the final and the entries will be judged on creativity, originality and quality.
Cocas are found all over the Valencian Community, with differing ingredients and shapes, for example small and round in Oliva, rectangular and oval in Utiel-Requena where they are called `Bollo´ or large and rectangular in Castellon. All artisan bakers have their own version reflecting local traditions.
VÍ Vid hope to attend all three events this year and report further on Valencia´s rich gastronomy which serve to keep the local variants alive and up to standard!